When Hadiza Dairet Kasimu was writing her exams in her final year of primary school, she mysteriously fell ill and by the end of that week, she had lost her ability to hear.
Losing her hearing halted Hadiza's life in a very big way: she dropped out of school and for six years was at home, doing nothing. Thanks to the support of her family, she eventually returned to school and was able to graduate from the university.
Today, Hadiza is an advocate for Nigerians with disabilities – specifically women and girls – fighting for their rights to a fair and inclusive society.
Speaking at the Mandela Washington Fellowship about what inspired her to become an activist, Hadiza said:
"Many people believe that if you have a disability, you have no future. People with disabilites are not given equal opportunities especially in Africa and that needs to change."
She is currently the state chairperson of the Deaf Women’s Association of Nigeria; the state coordinator of the Voice of Disabilities Initiative; and the women’s coordinator for the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities in Nasarawa.
She also counsels women and girls in her local community on everything from gender equality to financial independence; as well as encouraging Nigerians with disabilities to participate in politics, so they can have their voices heard.