Africa News

Nigerian Pro-Democracy Activist Hafsat Abiola-Costello Receives Vital Voices Global Leadership Award

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Last night at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 1,200 honored guests gathered at the 15th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards to celebrate four extraordinary women, each taking on the most urgent issues facing their communities and showing exceptional leadership in an insecure world.

Vital Voices Global Partnership.

Photo –
Logo –

Vital Voices Global Partnership honored Hafsat Abiola-Costello of Nigeria with the Leadership in Public Life Award. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund presented.

“[Abiola-Costello] believes Nigeria needs more than one or two good leaders, it needs a groundswell. And that groundswell must include women,” said Edelman. “For 20 years she’s been removing barriers to women’s full participation, fostering a new generation of leaders that’s poised to solve the country’s most urgent issues.”

Through her non-profit, Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), Abiola-Costello is working to remove barriers to women’s political participation and to eliminate violence against women. Since age 19, she’s been stirring up activism in fellow Nigerians, fueling movements for democracy, gender equality and women’s leadership. Her life’s work is a tribute to her parents, who were assassinated for their pro-democracy activism.

“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,” said Abiola-Costello. “The journey has not been an easy one.”

Hafsat Abiola-Costello (Paul Morigi/Vital Voices).

Akanksha Hazari of India, Khanim Latif of Iraq and Yoani Sánchez of Cuba were also honored for demonstrating bold, courageous leadership.

Alyse Nelson, president and Chief Executive Officer of Vital Voices, made the following remarks about Abiola-Costello and her fellow honorees:

“It’s never been more critical to support leaders who scale sustainable solutions, who foster resilience and use their platform to uplift others. Vital Voices invests in these leaders, in their proven ability to improve the world around them.”

For 15 years, Vital Voices has been shining a spotlight on visionary leaders who find solutions to enduring problems and create progress in their communities and beyond.

Photos available upon request.

MEDIA CONTACT: Linda Roth – – 202-744-5240