Ask Nigeria Header Logo

Empowering Women in Nigerian Business

Photo of author

By Abraham Adekunle

Progress, challenges, and opportunities in women empowerment.

In the Nigerian business sector, a significant transformation is underway, as women increasingly break barriers and assume leadership roles in traditionally male-dominated sectors. This shift is not only reshaping corporate dynamics but also serving as a catalyst for broader empowerment initiatives within the society. While notable progress has been made, challenges persist, underscoring the need for sustained efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable business environment. Nigeria’s financial services sector has emerged as a frontrunner in promoting gender diversity and women’s empowerment in corporate leadership. With a concerted focus on succession planning and leadership development, numerous financial institutions have witnessed a rise in female CEOs and top executives.

Notably, Access Holdings made headlines with the appointment of its first female CEO, Bolaji Agbede, following the tragic passing of its co-founder, Herbert Wigwe. This trend extends beyond Access Holdings, with a growing number of banks, including GT Bank, First City Monument Bank, and Union Bank, among others, being led by accomplished women. This remarkable feat reflects deliberate efforts to nurture and empower women leaders, supported by initiatives such as the Central Bank of Nigeria’s directive on gender diversity in board representation and top management positions.

Leading the way in the financial services and energy sectors.

According to Bola Adesola, former CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria and West Africa, and current chair of Ecobank, the increase in women leaders is a testament to intentional and managed progress. Through robust training programs and supportive workplace practices, women have been groomed for success, with male champions playing a pivotal role in advocating for their advancement. In the traditionally male-dominated oil and gas sector, women have also made significant strides, challenging stereotypes and carving out successful careers. Folorunsho Alakija, founder and vice chairman of Famfa Oil, and Catherine Uju Ifejika, CEO of Britannia-U Nigeria, are among the trailblazers in this industry.

Moreover, initiatives like the Seplat Awesome Women’s Network (SWAN) are driving gender equality within major indigenous oil companies. Beyond finance and energy, women are making their mark across diverse sectors, including conglomerates and pharmaceuticals. Owen Omogiafo, president and group CEO of Transcorp, and Stella Chinyelu Okoli, CEO of Emzor Pharmaceutical, exemplify the growing presence of women in leadership positions, inspiring future generations of female entrepreneurs and professionals. Despite these encouraging developments, the journey towards gender parity in Nigerian business faces multifaceted challenges. While women constitute roughly half of the workforce at lower levels, their representation diminishes significantly at senior corporate positions.

Challenges and opportunities ahead in the sector.

This disparity underscores entrenched barriers and systemic inequities that hinder women’s career progression. Olatowun Candide-Johnson, a seasoned professional and advocate for women’s empowerment, highlights the isolation experienced by women at the top echelons of business. To address this, initiatives such as GAIA Africa aim to foster networking and collaboration among professional businesswomen, facilitating knowledge sharing and mutual support. Moreover, the informal economy remains a vital but often overlooked arena for female entrepreneurship. While women dominate micro-business ownership, many operate in survival mode, lacking access to resources and opportunities for growth. Addressing these structural constraints requires targeted interventions to empower female entrepreneurs and unlock their full potential.

Changing social norms and attitudes is another critical aspect of advancing women’s empowerment in Nigeria. Cultural expectations and traditional gender roles continue to shape perceptions of women’s capabilities and aspirations, constraining their professional ambitions. By challenging stereotypes and promoting inclusive policies, stakeholders can create a more enabling environment for women to thrive in business and leadership roles. As Nigeria strives for economic growth and development, harnessing the talents and potential of its female workforce is essential for driving innovation and sustainable progress. By prioritizing gender diversity and women’s empowerment in business, policymakers, corporate leaders, and civil society can unlock new opportunities for economic inclusion and social advancement.

Related Article: FG boost Nig women-owned businesses

Investments in education, skills development, and mentorship programs are crucial for equipping women with the tools and resources needed to succeed in competitive industries. Moreover, fostering a culture of inclusivity and equal opportunity is essential for dismantling barriers and fostering a level playing field for all. In all, the empowerment of women in Nigerian business is a journey marked by both achievements and obstacles. While significant strides have been made, there is still much work to be done to realize the full potential of women as drivers of economic growth and social change. By embracing diversity, fostering collaboration, and championing women’s leadership, Nigeria can chart a path towards a more prosperous and equitable future for all.

Related Link

Wikipedia: Website

The content on is given for general information only and does not constitute a professional opinion, and users should seek their own legal/professional advice. There is data available online that lists details, facts and further information not listed in this post, please complete your own investigation into these matters and reach your own conclusion. accepts no responsibility for losses from any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of content contained in this website and/or other websites which may be linked to this website.

Fact Checking Tool -