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A Courageous Woman! Nigerian Human Rights Activist Josephine Odumakin honoured with the 2013 United State Secretary of State’s International Woman of Courage Award



At BellaNaija, we love to celebrate brave Nigerian women who are doing the nation proud with their selfless services and dedication to the promotion of equal rights. Today, we are so proud of Nigerian democracy activist and women’s right advocate Dr. Josephine Odumakin who was recently awarded the 2013 United State Secretary of State’s International Woman of Courage Award.

The U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama, with Secretary of state, John Kerry presented Josephine’s award to her at the Dean Acheson Auditorium of the US State Department at a ceremony which coincided with the International Women’s Day.

Dr. Odumakin is an inspiration to young women; a brave woman who has been on the forefront of over 2,000 cases of violations of women’s rights, including cases of extra judicial practices committed by government security agencies against women. Often times, these cases include extra judicial killings of women by the police or their spouses, assault of women by law enforcement personnel for any pretext as well as deaths of children and women through negligence on the part of school or hospital authorities. Dr. Odumakin heads the Campaign for Democracy and has been involved with a lot of initiatives to broaden Nigeria’s democracy.

She is currently the Executive Director of the Institute of Human Rights and Democratic Studies; President of Women Arise for Change Initiative; Chairman, Task Force of the Citizen Forum; Spokesperson, Coalition of Civil Society Organizations; and President, Centre for Participatory Democracy.

Dr. Odumakin is usually seen leading almost every protest, march, lecture or workshop aimed at encouraging the rule of law and governing justly and democratically. She was one of the prominent people behind the Occupy Nigeria protests against the Federal Government’s increase in the price of fuel early last year. Her advocacy led her to be arrested and detained seventeen times during the dictatorship of General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime.

The annual Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award which was established in 2007 honors women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk.

The award was also presented to nine other women from other countries including Afghanistan, Egypt, Honduras, Russia, Somalia, China, Syria, Vietnam and India.

Congratulations Dr. Odumakin!

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at


  1. Nago

    March 11, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Congratulations Dr Odumakin. There’s no denying d evident appreciation and admiration on Michelle’s face for this lady. I didnt know her before now but i can say she has inspired and challenged me with her great achievements. I wish more Nigerians will continue to step up their game despite the economic harshness. We need more international recognitions in postive light like this.

  2. pynk

    March 11, 2013 at 8:12 am

    love it love it! Congrats to Dr. Joe!

  3. Bella

    March 11, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Wow! Very impressing and inspiring. Congrats Dr Odumakin

  4. Jfk

    March 11, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Note to myself:joblessness is no excuse anymore,its time to work on my ideas to make it a reality! Great woman…Dr Josephine. God’s blessings now and always.

    • oyin

      March 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Amen sister!! me too oh.. exactly what I was thinking

  5. Floxy

    March 11, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Stories like this makes me proud to be a Nigerian.. More grease to your elbow Ma

  6. teekay

    March 11, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Dr Joe, i have always admired your ccourage and the zeal you have in human rights activism…God will continue to lift you higher and i implore more women to emulate her

  7. Nonye

    March 11, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Thank you Mrs Odumakin for making us proud. And God bless your family for the unflinching support so far. Wish more women like me could join you in this fight.


    March 11, 2013 at 10:05 am


  9. Debs

    March 11, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Awwwh…awesome. I have always feared for her and her family but you can just see the passion in her eyes. She is fullfing her purpose. God bless and continue toprotect you. You’re a great inspiration.

  10. The original Beebee

    March 11, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Congrats Dr Joe….

  11. Yinka

    March 11, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Congrats madam,you have done africa proud

  12. Whalezy

    March 11, 2013 at 11:28 am

    So many Nigerians doing great things and being recognised abroad. I pray we see the day when great Nigerians would begin to get the recognition they deserve in Nigeria instead of how corrupt officials and ex convicts are being recognised and given National awards.

    Congratulations Dr Odumakin!

  13. pumpkinplus

    March 11, 2013 at 11:32 am

    rare gem,a woman to be admired.its not all about being a beautiful woman on the outside.kudos to a woman who fights for what is right.I LOVE U MA.

  14. Okechukwu Ofili

    March 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    this is definitely an article worth sharing…


    March 11, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you Ma for standing out. With this i can i am proud to be a Nigerian.

  16. Beauty

    March 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Congratulations, Dr. Odumakin! Thank you for making Nigerians proud.

  17. junie

    March 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Gosh! I am simply in awe of her.!

  18. Temitope

    March 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I am really happy and proud that finally somebody out there has finally recognized her works and struggles for Nigeria women, she has put in so much for her country all these years. Dr. Odumakin this is the beginning of a new dawn for you congratulations ma..

  19. Teddy Bear

    March 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I love seeing Nigerians being recognized for doing positive things. Congratulations Dr. Odunmakin! You’re an insipiration to many!!!

  20. olaotan

    March 11, 2013 at 3:55 pm


  21. dimma1

    March 11, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    wow, amazing. congratulations Dr Odumakin!

  22. Idak

    March 11, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Congratulations Dr. Odumakin!
    Also a big congrats to your husband for supporting your dreams and pursuits.

  23. Mz Socially Awkward....

    March 11, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Amazing woman. You are a brave campaigner and I’m so glad that even if your own government doesn’t recognize your commendable work, the greater world out there does.

  24. Classic

    March 12, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Very proud of you, Dr. Joe! I love the picture of you and Michelle, holding hands. It seems like you both were “connecting.” And I couldn’t help but notice your shirt- GREEN, Proudly Nigerian, written all over you. Well done!


    March 13, 2013 at 11:57 am


  26. salsera

    March 24, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    very proud of you! continue doing what you are called to do-God will always provide you with strength even from strangers if need be.

  27. adelakin damola

    April 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Am so sorry to say,u re all. Useless,girls re raped in this country and u can’t do notin about it,d gal dat was raped in abia is an orphan nd u re der celebratin rubbish,mad pple

  28. Prince Awele Odor

    April 14, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    The award asks three fundamental questions:

    1). Is the USA government democratic internally and internationally?

    2). Based on what moral standing, activities, democratic principle, practice or value does the USA government, in particular and especially the government of Barak Obama, evaluate, judge, and decide concerning the activities, democracy and governance of other governments and nations of the world?

    3). What is intended to be achieved ultimately in Nigeria by this award?

  29. Henry

    May 15, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Congrats madam,u have done so well and u still have alots to do. We have been robbed badly in nigeria. Take for instance the case of my brother, Koria Christiantus Nwabueze that was shot dead by a Nigerian Police at Daleko Isolo on the 11th of April 2013 about 7.15 in the morning,uptill now the police has refused to provide the killer. Pls ma, i want you to come into this case. You can contact me with, +2348030432674 or [email protected].

  30. alakija babatunde

    May 23, 2013 at 7:49 am

    i think we still need a more vibrant youth who are ready to sacrfice all for the betterment of our country,we cannot afford to see thing going on this way,we must change the statos scope of our country so that there will be hope for common nigerian.i reserve some of my comment

  31. Chibson victor

    May 25, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Am simply delighted of your courage, and determinations, Nigeria need more your kind.

  32. nnedinma

    October 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    please ma, we would like to know how to contact you, we want to grant you an interview as one woman against all odds that made us proud.please do well to get back at me and u can as well access our website.thank you and God bless you.congrates

  33. lee

    July 3, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I need an urgent help. My younger sister who is married far away from me is being beaten and phones seized by her husband every now and then. what can I do to stop this abuse without breaking their marriage?

    The same thing just happened again yesterday with her face swollen. an urgent help/advice will be appreciated.

    warm rgds.

  34. Esther Akunna iIrokwe

    August 7, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Pls madam I need your help,I need to get your contact because I was abused and money was extorted from me by a man who call himself my husband.pls madam I need your help

  35. Esther Akunna Irokwe

    August 7, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    I need your help,I have been abused and money extorted from me and also my international passport seized by this same man,pls I need your help

  36. Grace Ighive

    September 20, 2014 at 6:24 am

    I was a widow with two children and now married to a man where I found a job since 2009 because of the distance I applied for a staff quarters at that period I had not married the man. A year after we were married, and I was thankful to God because the man lives in the Staff quarters. I moved in to live with him after our marriage. Five years later the man retired after serving for 35 years. Before he retired He has his building at Mowe in Ogun state where intends to move to. But after seven months into his retirement, the office asked him to move out of the premises. Although this is normal if you dont have spouse, but in the usual Civil Service Practice, the quarters is given to the spouse of the staff that retires except interest is not indicated. Immediate he retired i wrote a reminder to the office indicating that where my husband is retiring to will be too far for me as a woman with three children. But they did not reply or say anything but to reallocate the house to a staff who is a man and currently living at Festac. I felt this is a cheating because the office is at Victoria Island, coming from Mowe to Victoria Island, every morning is just impossible. Thank you.

  37. dania evelyn ndidi

    July 24, 2015 at 5:10 am

    Please im presenting myself to serve in your ministry I have been applying with no reply

  38. Adebola

    July 28, 2015 at 8:28 am

    NYSC denied pregnant and breast feeding women service without certificate of exemption. A woman can be in this reproductive cycle for nine years staying at home without job. Pls, is this not a ride on natural woman right.

  39. mbakwe benneth ejike

    October 1, 2015 at 9:10 am

    over 50 years old man raped my sisters last daughter of 11 years yesterday 30/09/ detained in the police station. on my way to my sister house at Iyanaoba in lagos to enable me ascertain the true position of the rape.

  40. mbakwe benneth ejike

    October 1, 2015 at 9:11 am

    please send phone number and address to me.

  41. kenny orji

    April 13, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Hi, i don’t know if here is the appropriate place to ask for this but all the same i believe someone can assist or direct me to the appropriate site of individual. A woman of three kids needs a divorce from her marriage of almost ten years and she needs a female lawyer who is also a human right activist. According to her, she said that the marriage is nothing but a nightmare to her, stating that she’s no longer happy with her husband who has been outside the country for years and only comes back in three to four years interval. Please if there is any assistance that can be rendered or offered to her, kindly contact (kenny 08062473909)
    Thanks and God bless you…….

  42. Racheal

    January 9, 2017 at 12:00 am

    Please I need ur help, my husband’s siblings have been abusing me since I got married to him, sometimes they will come and fight me, d last time give birth to my baby the sister that is much older than also fought with me. The worst part of it, that all of dem in house seniors me last year the brother is 38 years hit me on d chest. My husband will be there, he won’t say any thing. U should help me before they kill me in this marriage.

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