Hajia Aishat Ismail was appointed Nigerian Minister of Women Affairs & Youth Development in the first cabinet of President Olusegun Obasanjo, holding office between June 1999 and May 2003.
Aishat Ismail was a university lecturer, and later a Kano State Commissioner. In December 2000 she noted the shifts in Northern society, leading to more women entering white collar jobs, but also to higher levels of divorce and an increasing tendency for women to retain custody of the children after the divorce rather than leaving them with the father's family. In February 2001 she spoke out against the lack of commitment of delegates to the recently concluded West African Women Association (WAWA) conference. In August 2001, talking of the increase in the spread of Vesicovaginal fistula she warned families of the dangers of child marriage, and aaid that in future surgical operations for the disease would free in all hospitals.
In March 2002 Ismail welcomed the acquittal of Safiya Hussaini, a woman who had been sentenced to death under Sharia law for adultery. She said this was a victory for all women. As a member of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) she was under pressure in October 2002 to leave the government which was dominated by the People's Democratic Party (PDP). However, she refused to quit.