Hafsat Abiola

Hafsat Abiola is a human rights and democracy activist from Nigeria. She comes from a family of dedicated Pan-Africanists and courageous fighters for freedom and justice. Her father, M.K.O. Abiola, won the Presidential election held in Nigeria in 1993 but served out his term in solitary confinement, incarcerated by the military. He died in prison, on the eve of his release. Her mother, Kudirat, was a democracy leader who organized major strikes, marches, and fought assiduously against the military. In 1996, she was assassinated in the streets of Lagos. To continue the legacy left by her parents, Ms. Abiola founded and directs an organization called the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), which seeks to strengthen civil society and promote democracy in Nigeria. KIND records several achievements in the struggle to restore democracy to Nigeria, organizing the National Day of Student Action in the U.S. involving over 200 Amnesty groups in support of Nigerian youths, the campaigns for the successful passage of several resolution and sanction bills in major American cities and towns, and the campaign for the co-naming of a New York street after Kudirat Abiola. With the end of military rule, KIND now offers organizational support, leadership development and skills training opportunities to women, youths, and community based organizations in Nigeria as well as other countries in Africa. Ms. Abiola is also involved in the global movement to empower youth and women and to strengthen democracy. She was a founding member of the State of the World Forum's Emerging Leaders Program and Global Youth Connect. Currently, she is a Fetzer Fellow and serves on the Boards of Youth Employment Summit, Educate Girls Globally, Women's Learning Partnership, Hewlett Packard's World e-Inclusion Project, and the Global Security Institute. She travels around the world to speak about justice issues and writes articles featured in the international and Nigerian press including International Herald Tribune, the New York Times, Tell, Time, and Newsweek. She frequently appears on CNN, BBC, and Worldnet. Ms. Abiola holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. Honors received include the Youth Peace and Justice Award from the Cambridge Peace Commission in 1997, the State of the World Forum Changemaker Award in 1998, the Association for Women's Rights in Development's 'Woman to Watch for' Award in 1999, the World Economic Forum's Global Leader of Tomorrow Award in 2000, and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Global Award in 2001.