The #EndSARS movement has been happening since 2017 in protest at police brutality in Nigeria, especially that coming from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. This October, the movement was reignited at a scale unseen so far. Nigerians from across regions, religions and the political spectrum combined to form the biggest protect movement witnessed in Nigeria for years. The protests have no leader, but it is acknowledged women have again taken on a leading role.
Women in Nigeria have a long history of protest, from the Aba Women’s Riots in 1929 to Lagos Markets sexual harassment protests. Most recently, during the #EndSARS movement, The Feminist Coalition formed in July 2020, made up of predominantly young women. They promptly raised N150m (around $390,000) in donations and disbursed this money to provide ambulances and mental health support, fund legal teams and much more, all the while publishing their spending in accounts released daily.
Ebele Molua, Leader of the Market March, believes successes the of women’s movements in the past now helps women feel more confident they have the power to make a difference. The prevalence of different movements also mean the organisers have networks, experience and know what works and what’s needed. Many organisers are involved in more than one movement. As shown by the Feminist Coalition, they can and will hit the ground running.
What makes The Feminist Coalition stand out is that they finally received the recognition their predecessors had not. This is partially because of changing attitudes around women’s rights across the world but also strongly influenced by their use of social media to spread the word. It is much now trickier to erase the work these women are doing.