“No one questions when women and girls accept the lot that we’ve been given. Yet, we are questioned when we seek to change the way things are. I was 19 when my mother was killed for fighting for change in Nigeria. So it was at 19 that I decided to do more than what my society expected.”


Hafsat Abiola-Costello believes the challenges facing Nigeria offer a unique opportunity for women’s leadership to emerge. Through her nonprofit – the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) – she’s developing a rising generation of women leaders. Her life’s work is a tribute to her parents, who were assassinated for their pro-democracy activism.

As a cabinet member of the Ogun State government, she works to keep communities safe and advance women’s equal rights. Long before Boko Haram made headlines, Hafsat took dangerous trips to areas targeted by the extremist group. She organized coalitions of women to demand action against the group and continues to advocate for justice.