Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2005
Alliances for Africa


This profile was prepared when Iheoma Obibi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
Iheoma believes that the exclusion of women is a major reason for the ineffectiveness of the Nigerian government in meeting the needs of the vast majority of Nigerians. To reverse this situation, Iheoma is building the capacity of urban and rural women to advocate for their rights and to include themselves in governance structures and political processes by participating effectively in Nigerian politics and decision-making at local, state and federal levels. To make her efforts sustainable, she also addresses on a broader, deeper level the systemic exclusion of women in the political structure in Nigeria.
Unlike many other gender-focused initiatives, Iheoma’s goes beyond women’s empowerment rhetoric and provides women with the resources they require to affect change at all levels of society and to ensure their inclusion in the governance of their country. Through her Women in Governance (WIG) networks, complemented by a sophisticated media and political strategy, Iheoma is equipping women to become political leaders and directly influence policy. Iheoma understands that women cannot assume leadership positions unless they have concrete skills and can articulate their goals and ideas. Next, they need opportunities within existing structures. Finally, there is the ongoing work of changing perceptions and attitudes about women in power. Iheoma realized that she must address all of these phases to be successful in the face of societal obstacles.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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