AISHA YESUFU: Activist Extraordinaire

AISHA YESUFU: Activist Extraordinaire

Aisha Yesufu is a Nigerian activist and businesswoman. She is a co-founder of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, which brings attention to the abduction of over 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria on 14 April 2014, by the terrorist group Boko Haram. She has also been prominently involved in the End SARS movement against police brutality in Nigeria.


Aisha Yesufu was born and raised in Kano State, and is from Agbede in Edo State. She experienced the difficulties of being a girl in a predominantly patriarchal society. She has said that by the time she was 11 years old, she didn’t have any female friends because they had all been married or died in childbirth, and that by the time she married at 24, most of her friends were nearly grandmothers.

She says her love of books helped her during childhood, and reading made her realize “there was a world beyond the ghetto that I was growing up in … and I wanted that life”. She applied to the Nigerian Defence Academy in 1991, but she was rejected on the grounds of being a woman. She was initially admitted to Usmanu Danfodiyo University in 1992, but after the school closed she enrolled at Ahmadu Bello University to study medicine.

She would later leave that school after it was also closed as a result of the killing of a professor in 1994. She completed her education at Bayero University Kano, from which she graduated with a degree in microbiology.


After the terrorist group Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls in 2014, Aisha Yesufu and Oby Ezekwesili co-founded the #BringBackOurGirls movement to push for their rescue. Aisha Yesufu was among the women protesters who marched on the Nigerian National Assembly, in the nation’s capital, Abuja, on 30 April 2014.

Aisha Yesufu has been a prominent member of the End SARS movement, which began in 2017 and draws attention to police brutality in Nigeria and draws its name from a controversial police unit in the Nigeria Police Force called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

A photograph of her wearing hijab at an End SARS protest became an iconic symbol of the movement. Aisha Yesufu has said of the End SARS protests:

“I will not be an irresponsible parent and leave this fight for my children. I am ready to sacrifice my life for my children to live. I brought them to this world, and I need to fix the world I put them in.”

Aisha Yesufu was among BBC’s100 Women in 2020. She was also included in a list of the Top 100 Most Influential Africans by New African magazine in 2020.

By Oluwamayowa Akinyemi

Oluwamayowa Akinyemi

Oluwamayowa Akinyemi is a digital and web content developer with experience in web content development and management as well as research and writing. He is an avid reader of random subject matters and a sucker for movies and video games. He is also passionate about youth empowerment and is a global affairs analyst and enthusiast.

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