As a young woman, Chinyere Aniedu rebelled against the status quo, postponing marriage until the age of 27 and committing herself to higher education. Today, she is outspoken on issues of gender equality. Among her achievements, she rallied her female peers at the Institute to demand the same compensation as men, who were paid twice as much for doing the same job. Their request was eventually granted.
“If enough women were empowered with the idea of doing positive things for themselves and society, you would see Africa becoming a developed region,” she says. As assistant director of produce development at the National Root Crops Research Institute, Aniedu has devoted much of her career to teaching income-generating strategies to more than 5,000 women farmers. In her native language of Igbok, she is known as Ochi ora, one who takes care of others.
Aniedu says AWLAE provided her with greater opportunities to contribute to the world. In 1994, she received an AWLAE scholarship to pursue her master’s degree in Agricultural Extension at Reading University in England. Aniedu participated in several AWLAE leadership trainings, developing skills in management, teamwork and negotiation. She learned to use a computer to analyze data and present research findings. On a deeper level, she assumed responsibility for achieving big results.
“AWLAE gave me the boldness to do things and speak in public,” she says. “It impressed in our hearts that wherever we are, we must make change. We must act.”
Aniedu has applied her knowledge and creativity to support vulnerable women farmers. “Women and children have a lower status than men,” she explains. “A woman’s job is to make sure everyone is well fed and cared for. You are expected to marry, raise a family and take care of your husband and children.”
“In Nigeria, you have to be educated to speak out,” she affirms. Because of her education, Aniedu became “someone big” in her place of work. “Now when I speak, people listen,” she says.