OBIAGELI EZEKWESILI

Nigeria

“We need a collaborative disruption of the present acceptance of extremism, especially targeting women. Wherever women are being attacked by extremist ideas – whether it’s our Chibok girls or women in Syria – it’s the same underlying philosophy and the world cannot afford to stay in this state of complacency.”

Obiageli Ezekwesili co-founded the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Nigeria’s former Minister of Education and former World Bank Vice President for Africa, Obiageli was one of the first to demand action when 300 girls were abducted by the extremist group Boko Haram in 2014. She was shocked by the silence of government officials, so she took to the streets and mobilized a global movement online.

Threats and intimidation poured in. Obiageli was unfazed. She has never stopped calling for justice and the safe release of every abducted girl. She’s rallying fellow advocates to take a stand on behalf of women and girls, and says her government’s slow response to the crisis must spark a conversation about the kind of nation Nigeria wants to be.