Born in a Yoruba province where women had long been active in trade and shared some political authority with men, Ransome-Kuti studied at a girls’ school in England, became a teacher, married a Nigerian Christian clergyman, and raised four children.
In the 1940s the local women’s union she formed offered literacy classes for poor women and then evolved into a natiotral women’s movement to improve schools and health care and to end unfair taxation of women.
After refusing to pay taxes herself, Ransome-Kuti led mass demonstrations of women, helping to bring about the abdication of the Nigerian king.
She was instrumental in forming the Nigerian Women’s Union in 1949, which advocated women’s enfranchisement and their representation in government.
Active in transnational women’s movements, Ransome-Kuti worked with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Although not a communist herself she agreed to write an article about the condition of women in Nigeria for the British Communist Party newspaper, the Daily Worker.
Along with detailing the “appalling” conditions of life for Nigerian women, she called on British women to take responsibility for the plight of colonial subjects. After Nigerian independence in 1960, Ransome-Kuti became a critic of the government.