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Nigeria: 5 Women Championing Female Inclusion in Entertainment Industry

In commemoration of International Women’s Day marked every March 8, Vanessa Obioha and Iyke Bede compile a short list to highlight the female figures, from actresses to film producers, singers to festival organisers whose contributions in the past year continue to shape the minds of generations of women in Nigeria and beyond, helping them inch closer to attaining equality and equity

Onyeka Onwenu

Nicknamed The Elegant Stallion, Onwenu broke down many doors in the music industry to become one of the few female singers to compete with her male counterparts in the ’80s. She walked so that the likes of Tems could soar, yet, she continues to build more legacy to encourage other women outside the entertainment sphere.

Recently, she collaborated with the Rose of Sharon Foundation to release the inspiring ‘Rise Up’ to uplift widows who suffer economic hardship, prejudice from outdated cultural practices, and mental health breakdown impacted by their loss. She aimed to heal them through the song’s lyrics, and support them financially through proceeds.

Tems

The vocal powerhouse, whose 2018 hit ‘Mr Rebel’ took music lovers by storm, continues to etch her name in the annals of global music with her success streak.

Her most recent record, a Grammy win in the category of Best Melodic Rap for her contribution to Future’s ‘Wait For U’ sets her on a pedestal as the first mainstream female afrobeats act to win the awards. She received this honour after Wizkid, and Burna Boy earned recognition from the Recording Academy in the same year for their contribution and original works respectively.

Now leading a legion of contemporary Afrobeats female acts, Tems sets the bar high, inspiring this crop of artistes to aspire to international renown.

Real Warri Pikin

Having gone through her fair share of living through fear of paying back debt owed to financial institutions and surviving it, Anita Asuoha, aka Real Warri Pikin, on International Women’s Day, rewarded 20 small-scale women entrepreneurs in Abuja with N1 million (N20,000 per entrepreneur) to assist them to grow their businesses.

She achieved this feat through her foundation RWP Foundation which has helped women entrepreneurs for the past four years.

Funke Akindele

From her early days playing Bisi in the popular youth-centric sitcom ‘I Need To Know’, Akindele has proven time and time again that gender is no limiter to success. And this shows with her claim to occupying the top two spots on the list of highest-grossing films in Nigeria with ‘Omo Ghetto’, and ‘Battle on Buka Street’.

Just like her onscreen character Jenifa, Akindele continues to redefine the meaning of success for the everyday woman. She’s currently running for the office of Deputy Governor in Lagos State in the 2023 gubernatorial elections.

Chioma Ude

For more than a decade, Chioma Ude has been spotlighting African films on the continent and beyond through the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF). The annual festival pools creatives from different parts of the continent to a week-long feast of screenings, discourses, pitches, networking, and, of course, a glamorous award show for competing films vetted by a cerebral panel of judges.

Through this gathering, Ude has also launched aspiring filmmakers as well as helped film production companies collaborate on projects. Recognised as one of the leading film festivals in Africa, Ude leaves an indelible footprint in the film industry for other women to emulate.

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