Commemoration of the 2nd Edition of International Women’s Day Awards – Honouring women and men advocating for gender equality

February 18, 2023


LAGOS – 18 February 2023, The International Women’s Day (IWD) Awards Gala is convened by UN Women and UNDP in Nigeria in partnership with the Diplomatic Missions and Delegations of Australia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the European Union, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The IWD Awards serve as a platform to recognize individuals in different sectors that are making a concerted effort to advocate for increased women participation in all sectors.

Women’s leadership is recognized as integral to sustainable social and economic development. Having women’s voices equally represented is a moral imperative and has significant dividends for the economy, health, peace and security. Despite the importance of women to contribute to the economic development their representation is very minimal. Women representation in national parliaments and in corporate boards globally only amounts to 26% and 6% respectively. In Nigeria, these figures stand at less than 5% and 17% respectively. Based on research it is believed that increasing women’s leadership in executive boards in the corporate sectors can increase the GDP by 35%.

Gender equality is the unfinished business of all genders and in response to feedback, the International Women’s Day Awards Gala placed a greater emphasis on the importance of male allyship in advancing gender equality by recognising the contributions of key male allies through the newly introduced HeForShe Award. The IWD Awards Gala also recognized that there are other avenues that advocate and advance gender equality in Nigeria. One of those being the upcoming Nigeria 2023 general elections which will provide an invaluable opportunity to recognize women’s achievements across a range of fields while promoting women’s visibility, advocating for the election of women aspirants, and the eventual appointment of more women into Federal and State cabinets.

The UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Beatrice Eyong, in her goodwill message stated that “As we celebrate the women who are making great strides as leaders in their respective fields, we do so knowing that we must vote for women. We must increase representation of women in executive and senior leadership in the private and public sectors. Women’s equal participation in public and private life is not only a moral imperative, but it also makes for better business and more resilient communities.

The UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Beatrice Eyong.

She further added that 'Globally, the lifetime income gap between women and men cuts the wealth of countries by 106.2 trillion USD. In sub-saharan Africa this accounted for 11.4% of regional wealth. Women’s human capital could increase from 283 billion USD to 453.2 billion USD with gender equality. I take this moment to salute the grassroots and civil society actors represented here today who continue to shape the agenda around women’s increased leadership representation and gender equality'. She concluded that there is a lot to be proud of, and a lot to build on in Nigeria- for example appointment of the first 50/50 cabinet in Kwara State.

The International Women’s Day Awards Gala 2023 is built on the success of the first edition and is leveraged on the influence of the women ambassadors and heads of missions to Nigeria in advocating for increased women’s participation in decision-making across all sectors. The event also provided a platform to highlight the invaluable contributions of Nigerian women and raise awareness about the major challenges they continue to face. The first edition of the IWD gave international recognition to trail-blazing women, organisations, and government bodies that champion women’s rights and gender equality across backgrounds and industries.

L-R: The UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Beatrice Eyong and Mr. Mohammed Yahya, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme at the IWD 2023 Gala Awards night.

Mr. Mohammed Yahya, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme delivering his message pointed out that “ Women leadership is key in ensuring sustainable social and economic development not only in Nigeria but in Africa as a whole. Having women voices equally represented is essential to bring about the development we envision.” Mr. Yahya further added that, “In Nigeria, women representation in the national parliament is less than 5 percent…despite the low numbers, women in Nigeria continue to break records in the fields of business, sports, technology.” He further went on to say that “my boss [Mm. Ahunna Eziakonwa] is the head of UNDP Africa, the head of WTO and the Deputy Secretary General to the UN are all Nigerian women.”

Nominees and award winners were selected by the IWD Awards Board comprised of representatives from development partners, the UN and namely Ms. Leanne Johnston, Chargé d'Affaires - Australian High Commission; H.E. Amb. Pascaline Gerengbo, Democratic Republic of Congo Ambassador; H.E. Amb. Samuela Isopi, European Union Ambassador; H.E. Amb. Emanuelle Blatmann, French Ambassador; H.E. Amb. Annett Günther, German Ambassador; H.E. H.C. Catriona Laing; Ms. Beatrice Eyong, UN Women Country Representative and Mr. Mohamed Yahya, UNDP Resident Representative.

The Award winners in the various categories are listed below:

Political Leadership and Governance: Winner: Ms. Grace Alache Jerry, Founder and Executive Director, Inclusive Friends (North Central, representing Persons Living with Disabilities)

Private Sector: Ms. Priscilla Iyari (South-West)

HeForShe Champion: Hon. Prince Clem Agba, Honourable Minister of State Budget and National Planning (South-South)

Media and Culture: Ms. Kemi Adetiba (South-West)

Grassroots & Civil Society: Ms. Aisha Zannah (North-East)

Feature Award – DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality: Ms. Aisha Tofa (North-West)

Outstanding Leader: Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi (North-Central & South-West)

Lifetime Achievement Award: H.E. Dame Pauline K. Tallen OFR, KSG (North-Central)

This year’s International Women’s Day theme: DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality celebrates the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education

Note to Editors

 About UNDP:

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the leading United Nations organisation fighting to end the injustices of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with a broad network of experts and partners in over 170 countries, UNDP helps nations to build integrated and lasting solutions for people and the planet.

 In Nigeria, UNDP provides technical and policy development support to the Federal Government of Nigeria and supports the implementation of interventions across various thematic areas to meet the medium to long-term national development prioritiesand the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Learn more:



UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.

UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide. It works globally to make the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for women and girls and stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life. Learn More:

Media Contacts: 

Christabel Chanda - Ginsberg                                                                        

Public Engagement, Outreach & Partnership Lead                        


Faith Bwibo

Communications Specialist