Obasanjo, others harp on girl-child education
The book, which dwells on pioneers and icons among the country’s womenfolk, x-rays the pioneering efforts of women who “despite the odds in a male-dominated environment,” broke barriers and explored new frontiers to become historical figures in Nigeria’s contemporary history.
According to the author, a professor of history, former Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, and former Commissioner for Education in the old Western State, “The book is meant to inspire young girls to brave all odds and reach the top of their chosen careers.”
In the first part of a three-volume compendium, 33 women who ventured into otherwise male-dominated areas of academics, trade, professionalism, arts, music, politics and sports and earned accolades for their perseverance, were listed.
In her remarks, Awe, herself a pioneer female professor of History and the first to be employed into the university system of independent Nigeria, said apart from preserving the pioneering efforts of these women, “their history would serve as inspirations to our young girls who, despite giant strides in national development, are still tied down by the odds that these pioneers braved.”
Obasanjo who was represented by Dr. Femi Majekodunmi, said the book is a guide to the girl-child and an important milestone in the socio-political history of the country. He recounted how he relied on the judgments of female appointees like Okonjo-Iweala, who negotiated Nigeria’s exit from the Paris Club of debtor-nations, during the course of his administration.
The former President also suggested that the history of the women pioneers should be part of schools’ curricula and be made compulsory for the girl-child “so that the path to success would be cleared of the socio-cultural and physical inhibitions been faced by young girls of today.”
The trio of the Deputy-Governor of Osun State, Grace Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, Chairman of Childsplay Books Limited, publishers of the book, Tokunbo Ajasin and reviewer, Professor M. K Yahaya, eulogised the author and recommended her efforts as the best way of the past to mould the future of young Nigerians.
Prominent among listed women in the book are Ladi Kwali who got a British empire recognition for pottery, Margaret Ekpo, Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Hajia Gambo Sawaba, who pioneered women involvement in nationalism and politics, Wuraola Esan, the late Iyalode of Ibadan, an icon in trading and her daughter, Jadesola Akande, as well as Toyin Olakunrin, who got to the top of their chosen professions.
Others are Onyeka Onwenu and Batile Alake in music and Professor Grace Alele-Williams, the first African woman Professor of Mathematics and pioneer Nigerian female Vice-Chancellor in academics as well as Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Chinamanda Adichie in global economy and literature respectively.