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Top Jo Nzerem

Thought leader series....

Changing the narrative

Josephine Nzerem on women, social entrepreneurship and the importance of dispelling stereotypes…

Josephine, or 'mama' as she is affectionately called by thousands of Nigerian women is now a Director, Venture & Fellowship at Ashoka Africa. She is also the founder of Human Angle, an organization striving for equal property rights and educating women about the same

Josephine Nzerem has a way of speaking that is compelling. The enthusiasm in her voice is unmistakable as is her passion. While those have and continue to hold her in good stead, it is her remarkable work with Human Angle that has made her quite the pathbreaking social entrepreneur in her native Nigeria and well known beyond

Through her work, Nzerem works on educating women, but more importantly men on what happens in the event of their death. Her pioneering work has resulted in not only couples getting their marriages and registered but actively making wills. She has won numerous awards, grants and widespread recognition since the 1990s for her work. She was an Ashoka Fellow from 2002-05 (and is now a Director there!), she has won grants from the Global Fund for Women twice, the Ford Foundation to name a few. She is widely recognized for her mission to bring in systemic change in womens’ empowerment and for not limiting the conversation about women to women alone but making men the focus of her efforts as well.



Human Angle is a nonprofit social enterprise that works toward educating men and women about property rights. According to Nigerian law, if a marriage is not registered by law, on the husband’s death, all manners of property reverts to the husband’s family. This is a crippling problem leaving the wife and her children often penniless, homeless and destitute.


Human Angle works on grassroots advocacy. Eduation, creating awareness about what happens when the man passes on with no will. Josephine strives to give a very realistic picture of how the widow and her children will be impacted in the event of no will. She does however use some very ingenious methods in getting her message across, which has made her organization hugely successful!



“People respond to what they see. A drama enacted has a more instantaneous effect in starting a conversation than a file full of research. Each has its place and importance. Know when to use it!”.

                                                            - Josephine Nzerem on her strategy behind using plays as openers for her workshops at Human Angle


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