Hafsat Abiola appointed president of Women in Africa

Hafsat Abiola

Human and civil rights activist, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, was on Tuesday June 5 appointed executive president of Women in Africa (WIA) Initiative.

WIA is a global platform dedicated to the economic development and support of leading and high potential African women.

The appointment came a day before her father, the late Moshood Abiola, was posthumously announced as recipient of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).

President Muhammadu Buhari conferred the country’s highest national honour on the late business mogul for winning the June 12, 1993 presidential election which was annulled by then military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida.

Buhari also declared that June 12 will henceforth be celebrated as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.

Founded in 2016 by Aude de Thuin, WIA is the first innovative digital platform dedicated to the economic development and support of leading and high potential women in 54 African countries.

Its pillars of action – WIA Club, WIA Media, the WIA Institute, WIA RH – contribute to the promotion of a new generation of African women who invent inspiring leadership to positively change the future of the continent.

De Thuin described Abiola-Costello’s appointment as a key step for the initiative.

“This is the stage of maturity. Since the beginning of WIA initiative, I have always said that I would give my place to an African woman, because it is in the logic of WIA to have an African president.

”It is with women that Africa will develop in trust and in complementarity with men,” the 67-year-old said.

According to her, she the 43-year-old “first because of her personality; she was one of the first WIA ambassadors, and joined WIA council a year ago.”

“Secondly, because of her career as an activist for human rights, civil rights and democracy, and values so close to ours made her the ideal candidate.

“Finally, for her analysis and her vision of the role of women in the economy. All this combined made it obvious that she is the right person at the right place.”

Abiola-Costello said she accepted the post because she believes in the vision of the organisation.

“Women are the greatest untapped resource the continent has; so I want to help lead the organisation that is working to harness their potential,” she said.

”It could very well be the game-changer that unleashes the long-anticipated rise of the continent.”

She added that her primary goal is to learn in the first year of her tenure.

“My goals for 2018 are understandably modest; it is primarily to learn,” she said.

”To learn how the organisation currently operates, to meet our partners and listen to their vision and interests, to engage with our members across the continent and learn what they see as the biggest opportunities and the toughest challenges.

”In the coming year, my focus will be on building out the structure for the future and beginning to tie that structure to performance.

“I’ll be focusing on ensuring that we have ambassadors in all the countries of Africa, that we have active councils in at least a third of these, and that we expand the network of partners that we engage on behalf of our members.”

A graduate of the Phillips Academy (1992) and Harvard College (1996), Abiola-Costello is the founder and president of Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), whose purpose is to strengthen civil society and promote democracy in Nigeria.

In 1997, she received the Youth for Peace and Justice Award from the Cambridge Peace Commission. In 2000, she was designated a world leader of the future at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In 2003, she was elected as a member of “Ashoka: Innovators for the Public” (International, apolitical, non- denominational and non-profit association founded in 1980 in India) in recognition of her international status as a social entrepreneur. In 2006, she was appointed as the founding adviser of the Council for the Future of the World.

She is currently a special adviser to Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State.