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Mary Izobo is the founder of The Amazon Leadership Initiative (TheALI), which aims to empower women and girls, provide support networks, mentorship, career guidance, education and capacity development to alleviate gender inequality.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA Hons) in French Language from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland; a Barrister at Law (BL) from the Nigerian Law School, Nigeria; a Master of Laws (LLM) in Human Rights and Democratization in Africa from the University of Pretoria, South Africa; and a Master of Laws (LLM) in Rule of Law for Development from Loyola University Chicago, USA.

She is currently studying for a Doctor of Laws (LLD) with a focus on International Governance at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She has worked for the United Nations (UN) the African Union Commission (AUC), the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), the Institute for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).

She talks about her journey in an interview with Women of Rubies.

Inspiration Behind The Amazon Leadership Initiative (TheALI)

I was inspired to start TheALI because of my passion and concern (love) for human rights particularly women and girls’ rights.

Impact on society, andTestimonials since inception.
The Amazon Leadership initiative (TheALI), is a not-for-profit organization. It was established to empower women and girls, provide support networks, mentorship, career guidance, education and capacity development to alleviate gender inequality in line with aspiration 6 of the AU Agenda 2063 and goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030. TheALI envisions a world where everyone has equal rights and opportunities – inter-generational equity.

The impact of TheALI on women and girls includes the advancement and empowerment of women and girls for the fulfilment of their rights, development and wellbeing. We do this through mentorship, career guidance, education and capacity development. We provide education for young women and girls including career guidance in their chosen career fields. We also currently mentor several girls and young women across continents as mentorship is at the heart of TheALI. We have also been able to educate and provide capacity development for young women and girls through webinars, training and informal meetings. Topics of the webinars and training TheALI have covered, include five of the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: Women and girls’ education, the girl child, women in governance, gender and generation equality, and gender-based violence. All of these webinars, training and informal meetings were well attended by individuals who are set to change the world around them. You can find the links to these webinars and advocacy work here.

We have also been able to carry out advocacy programmes for the promotion and protection of the rights and welfare of the girl child using the bottom to top approach to place a girl child at the centre of Africa’s development agenda. In 2020, TheALI collaborated with the Graça Machel Trust (GMT) in commemorating the International Day of the Girl Child through an intergenerational dialogue on the theme ‘She is Equal.’ We brought together girls’ representatives from the five regions in Africa (Central, East, North, West, and Southern Africa) to afford them the opportunity to share their concerns and challenges primarily to inform and influence the advocacy agenda for girls within the African continent. With this intergenerational dialogue, we were able to create an interactive platform for these young girls who presented the barriers that prevent them from enjoying and fulfilling their rights as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child as we proposed solutions to these barriers.

You have hosted and organized several empowerment programs and conferences how do you manage it all and what drives you?

On how I manage it all, I am constantly motivated by my passion for human rights, gender equality and equity, the importance of learning, sharing and imparting knowledge, partnerships, and collaborations. What drives me is hard work, commitment, consistency, dedication, passion, and above all networking because as they say your network is your net worth.

What are the important aspects you’ve noticed about Africa as someone who has worked with the African Union? What are the things you wish were done differently when it comes to the female gender?

There are so many important aspects to Africa that I have noticed guided by the values and ideals of the African Union. To begin with, I would highlight African Unity. The African Union is the Pan-Africanist continental organization that we have in terms of bringing African people together and formulating the standards for promoting democracy, human rights and pioneering peer-review between and amongst States in Africa.

Another aspect is the role of the youth in nation-building in Africa – Youths are the cornerstone and bedrock of any society, and their role cannot be underestimated or overemphasized. As fuel is the driving force of any vehicle, so is the youth of any nation. Africa has the youngest population in the world where 60% of its population is under 25 years. This means that the average percentage of the youth in any African country is approximately 30 to 50 per cent. Africa must utilise its youths in the development of its future vision and direction, by engaging them in the decision making processes. It is critical that youths play a crucial role in building social cohesion, economic prosperity, and political stability in any nation. This must be done through inclusivity and democratization. In 2018, Ms Aya Chebbi was appointed by the African Union as the first African Union Youth Envoy. This is a step in the right direction for the African Union as there is the need to do more by including the youth in leadership positions.

 

What I wished was done differently when it comes to the female gender is what I constantly advocate for – gender equality and equity – Give women more representation. In the past few years, the representation of women at the top leadership position in Africa and also at the African Union Commission has improved and increased but we need more women at the top leadership levels. In the history of the African Union, we have had only one female chairperson, Mrs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and for the first time ever, we have our first female Deputy Chairperson of the Commission, Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa. The AU needs to continue to advocate for the inclusion of women in leadership positions.

What are some of the challenges of your work?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major restraint on everyone. The work that we do at TheALI involves a lot of outreach, advocacy and travelling. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our capacity, outreach and advocacy programmes. Thus, to manage the present realities given the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to use Zoom and other online platforms as a working method.

In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have carried out a lot of advocacy programmes virtually by bringing together notable male and female leaders to continue to discuss issues around the achievement of gender equality and equity. We have also carried out work particularly in relation to women and girls in the context of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the rights of women and girls.

However, because these events are virtual, the actual impact on the ground is not one that we would expect without COVID-19. As a result, TheALI is strategizing and revisiting the work done virtually to assess or measure the impact done on the ground where it matters and concerns all beneficiaries. In addition, at TheALI, we continue to make financial adjustments as adequate funding has not been forthcoming and consequently, the capacity of TheALI has suffered from resource constraints.

Other projects and activities?

We are currently working on two major projects slated for the second half of the year 2021 focusing on empowering women and young girls.

3 women who inspire you and why

Mrs. MOE Agbebaku-Izobo (my mum) is my greatest inspiration. She supports and guides me to become the best I can be. She is a pillar, a backbone and a constant reminder that my dreams are valid. Besides my mum, three other women who inspire me in no particular order are: Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organization; Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of United Nations Women (UN Women) and Mrs Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the United States of America. These women inspire me because they have broken down barriers and shattered glass ceilings in achieving their dreams, pioneering their fields and taking up spaces in male-dominated spheres. These women are strong and phenomenal and bring a realization that your dreams are valid only if you dare to dream. They are the epitome of Black girl magic.

Could you share some brilliant insights from your life experience?

Some of the brilliant insights from my life experience include studying for my law degree, qualifying for the Nigerian Bar, practicing as a Human Rights Lawyer and receiving recognition through numerous awards for my educational and professional experience.

What makes you a Woman of Rubies?

I believe I am a Woman of Rubies because I greatly care for others, value humanity as well as human rights and most importantly, I am a staunch advocate for gender equality and inter-generational equity.

You can follow Ms. Mary Izobo on any of her social media handles below

Email: info.theali.org@gmail.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/izobomary/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/IzoboMary

Facebook: https://facebook.com/IMaryIzobo

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryizobo/

 

 

Social media has opened u​s to ​ a whole new world of content and skit creators. Anytime you need a quick laugh throughout the day, you can check your timeline to see silly skits, dances, and voiceovers.

There is an abundance of hilarious men and women on social media making us smile, thereby improving the mental health of a lot of people. While there are so many well known and upcoming content creatives out there, some stand out because of their aura and mode of delivery. One of such people is the incredibly talented and beautiful Ope Keshinro,​ popularly known as SwitOpe.

Ope is an on-air personality, a voiceover artist, and an actress. As a lover of arts from a young age, she honed her talents in secondary school, where she was always either in dance or drama groups.

She then went on to further refine her budding talent at the prestigious University of Lagos where she graduated with a B.A degree in Creative Arts (Theatre Major). She currently works with HotFM Lagos 93.3 as a radio host where she hosts the midday show.

More recently, SwitOpe has harnessed the power of social media to gain widespread popularity with her comedic skits where she portrays several characters to hilarious effect. She was recently featured on CNN alongside other content creators.

Ope is currently expanding her talents to the big screen and will be featuring in several upcoming movies.

She shares her Inspiring story in this exclusive interview with Esther Ijewere

Growing Up

I was born and brought up in Lagos, Nigeria. Growing up was fun for me because I have four siblings: 2 sisters and 2 brothers, so I had playmates.

My dad still tells stories of how I used to mimic any and everything that happened at home or in school while he was away, and immediately he gets back I would describe and act it out to him.

I was also always in all the plays, dance groups and choir groups in school. Because of my interests in the arts, I went on to study Creative Arts (Theatre major) at Unilag where things started becoming a bit more serious for me and I started thinking about doing this as a career. So yes, my childhood played a big part in preparing me for what I do now.

Inspiration behind “Switope” platform

I have always had the ‘Switope’ handle across all my social media platforms and I got the name from one of my sister’s roommates in university that year, Sonia.

She asked me to help her with something and I did without hesitating and she went on and on about how sweet I was and then called me ‘Sweet Ope’, I liked it and changed my Facebook name to that, and the rest is history. I also did not start out thinking I will use social media to showcase my talents. However, as you know, I have always had the passion for entertaining people and during the pandemic and lockdown, I felt that I could entertain and help put some smiles on people’s faces and things took off from there.

The journey so far

It has been a long and interesting journey. I tend to look at an artist’s journey in 3 phases, learning, growth, and established phases. Looking back now my learning phase started from my acting and dancing in primary school. Without learning those basics, I would not have had the skill and confidence to go down this path. However, In the past year, I have moved into early stages of the growth phase, I’ve added more dimension to my performances, and I’ve matured a lot as an entertainer. I expect to continue this growth phase over the next few years and increase my versatility. Following that, I am looking forward to getting into the established phase and there is still a long way to go so watch this space.

Being a voiceover artist, actor, content creator, and managing it all

With such a busy schedule, I must be focused and extremely organised. I have a well thought out schedule that helps to compartmentalise and deliver in all aspects of my life. For example, I have set times for my radio show which do not change, so I can plan around it. Outside of those set times, I search for new content and practice my acting lines. I then ensure that I give myself enough time to record and edit any videos I need to post. My days can be long but because I’m doing what I love, it is very fulfilling. 

My CNN feature

it has only been a few days so it is hard to say how it has affected my journey so far.  But one thing is for certain, it made me realize that indeed, people are watching.

Challenges of my work

As a creative and a content creator, you need to ensure that you are constantly keeping things fresh and ensuring you are hitting the right notes with the intended audience. In the world that we are in nowadays, a lot of people are one-hit wonders, and it is very challenging to ensure that I don’t fall into that trap. So, I have to always keep my content fresh and engaging.

Other Projects and Activities

I am a radio host and a certified voiceover artist and you probably must have heard my voice on an advert/jingle or on my radio show. I am also an actress and I have featured in a few acting roles. Most recently I featured in a sitcom which will be out soon. I am very keen on getting more prominent acting roles and I am constantly on the lookout for opportunities in this area.

3 Women who Inspire me

Genevieve Nnaji, because growing up, I watched her and really wanted to be like her some day and seeing that after many years she’s still very relevant in Nollywood is something huge.

Funke Akindele Bello, also because I grew up watching her and people say women are not funny, but she is one of those that have changed that narrative.

Beyonce, because I admire her work ethics, I haven’t worked with her yet but It’s not easy being a mom and an entertainer and she pulls it off effortlessly.

Nuggets on to become a good content creator

Be creative and always think of ways to stand out. Someone has probably already done what you want to do but yours can be more creative or more Inspiring or even funnier. You need to constantly think of what makes your craft unique.

Being a Woman of Rubies

I am a woman of Rubies because I am inspiring, and in my own little way, I try to make the world a better place by putting smiles on people’s faces.

You can connect with Ope via her social media platforms below;

Instagram : @Switope

Twitter : @Switope

Tiktok : @switope

Facebook : Swit Ope Keshinro

 

Mofolusho Liasu is the founder of Super Parents Foundation, which gives assistive aid to the disabled. She is a lawyer, advocate, a business woman and a mother.

Her foundation, inspires, educates, advocates and raise awareness about disability myths and truths. Skills acquisition programs are organized to help indigents become more self-reliant as well give grants to help them set up their startup. Also frequent soft skills training are also set up to help them develop better coping skills. Assistive aids like wheelchairs, walker, etc and scholarships are given to some children with disabilities.

People’s homes, schools, and communities are usually visited. They also educate individuals on the need of showing empathy and compassion to people with disabilities. Foluwasho’s foundation fights for children with disabilities to be included in mainstream schools and to have access to other social benefits. 

Super Parents foundation hosts over 500 children annually to mark the annual Children’s Day to promote social inclusion, bringing together children with disabilities and those without. 

On this interview with Women of Rubies, she takes on a her journey.

Did your childhood prepare you in anyway for what you do now, tell us more about your growing up?

Hmm, I won’t say a No, though I never considered it until I was reminded. My best friend in secondary school was a girl with polio. I became close to her because I discovered she was enjoying the pitiful attention. I believe she was more than that and so I discouraged her from getting carried away by the pity from others. I insisted we must do things ourselves without the help of others. We would fetch water together, wash clothes etc. without anyone’s help. She became bold and always showcased her abilities whenever it was necessary. She became the social prefect and received many awards. We came across each other recently through our Alumni platform and she told me God used her to prepare me for this. Lol, it didn’t occur to me till she mentioned it.

Super Parent Foundation While growing up, I hated children being bullied or discriminated based on status or for whatever reasons so I can say that could be a factor. I have never discriminated  between a child with disability and one without, everyone was same to me.

I also remembered I was 10years thereabouts when my dad took me for his friend’s birthday party and I noticed the other son was kind of bullied by his father, it was obvious the boy was different but I couldn’t —- much disability then, if I would access him now, its probably mild autism with speech impediment. I saw how the mum was showing her displeasure on how he is been treated by his dad. I remember I was very upset with his dad and sad for the boy. That scene stuck to my head for years but I never thought of it making me an advocate I am today but I guess subconsciously it did.

What inspired you to start the Super Parents Foundation?

Like I said earlier, I am someone who is passionate and also aspire to change wrong social narratives to positives, advocating for care and support for vulnerable persons and protection for victims or abused. I came across a story on a group, a mother, her deaf child who needed hearing aid which costs 1million. I never knew assistive gadgets like that was so expensive. It led me to inbox her and we became very close, I got to find out the sufferings and discriminations she had to go through from her family, in-laws and society. That led me to advocating for these vulnerable parents, from there I formed a support group on Facebook called Super Parents for parents to speak their mind and share their experience, to get comfort and support from others experienced parents and supporters.

The group grew and became very alive and it was registered as NGO two years ago and it been working strong since then. Empowering members who needsupport.

Tell us about this great foundation, it’s impact in the society, and testimonials since inception

The foundation has become a strong platform for everyone, it’s an inclusive foundation which supports vulnerable persons especially persons and children with disabilities, widows are also supported too.

The foundation has a Facebook platform where people are free to speak their mind without fear of discrimination. People learn and unlearn about many issues e.g, disabilities, pregnancy, marriage and different issues affecting everyone.

Inclusive events like children’s party are organized, the children have fun and empathy is the order of the day. Our slogan ‘Let Love Lead’ is also a leading factor for us, this directs us to respect everyone equally.

We have so many testimonies from our members and even persons in the society. Parents of children with special needs no longer hide their children or the facts that they have children with special needs, the boldly advocate for other children with special needs against discrimination, also canvassing support for them. Since the advent of Super Parents Foundation, parents boldly celebrate their children with disabilities online, in their birthdays and other occasions, also to inspire others. This was a vary uncommon practice before now.

You have organized and sponsored several advocacy and empowerment programs, how do you manage it all and what drives you?

My drive is my desire to change my narratives and my — to do what I right. Above all, God called me to do this and I must fulfil my mission no matter what it takes.

From your experience, and as one with deep passion for disabled children what would greatly improve their plight in the country, and what are the things that have not been rightly applied.

Honestly, there has been great development when it comes to the support for persons and children with special needs in this country especially in Lagos State but we are still far from near perfect.

They need support in everyday, from education, to medical, to accessibility, infrastructure, etc. Once the country moves to — development, everything including the disability community will be affected positively. A lot is not applied rightly, from infrastructure or buildings that is not accessible for wheel chairs, lack of origin language interpreters in public places, roads which are bad for wheel chairs to public special and inclusive schools that are not up to standard, to poor medical facility for their, so much more. Like I said earlier, we have a long way to go.

What are some of the challenges you face?

We face lots of challenges.

The Inability of the parents and the society to accept their children with disabilities. These children are subjected to cruel treatment by relatives, native doctors and religious homes.

Funds – The work is cumbersome and we have low support compared to the task to be tackled.

Poverty – Most of these vulnerable persons and children cannot afford the basic and managing disability in Nigeria is expensive so they suffer so much from hunger to lack of adequate medical care.

Tell us about your other projects and activities?

We have lots of projects and activities. One of the biggest events is Inclusive Children’s Party. The children have fun not minding their condition, assistive gadgets are given out etc.

Empowerment – We empower members with skill acquisition training and a also provide tools or provide them with minimal capital funds to help them start their business.

We also engage in online projects to stimulate the parents to be able to help their children without much fund or assistance needed.

Mention 3 women who inspire you and why

To be honest, it won’t be fair to mention any names, from my mother, to my friends, to supporters, to mothers with special needs, widows, to the woman on the street or the one I watch on TV or online, they all inspire me. 99%of my supporters, donors, volunteers are ALL WOMEN, they all inspire me to keep pushing.

Could you share some of your favourite nuggets about life with us?

“You cannot give what you don’t have” – I cannot give love if I don’t have it, I cannot give strength to the vulnerable if I don’t have it too.

So sometimes, I sit down to reflect, then refill myself spiritually, physically and financially so as to give my best to those I serve.

“What you appreciate cannot depreciate” – I loves appreciating people, also value my supporters and lovers. I believe I increase my values and theirs when I appreciate the love and kindness they show me.

 

What makes you a woman of rubies?

Because I choose to see myself not just as an ordinary woman but a woman with vision and goals with God’s given ability to execute them, to impact myself and the world at large. To God be the glory.

 

Omobolanle Ajijola is a Certified Trauma Counselor trained in Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Early Trauma and an Executive Member of the African Network of Professional Counselors(ANEPCO).

An NLP Practitioner and a passionate Gender-Based Violence Advocate as well as being a trained certified Emotional Intelligence Specialist, she  passionately  spreads awareness against sexual and all forms of gender-based violence and is concerned about the total well-being of families and by extension children.

Omobolanle is the founder of Bina AI-Amal Safety Foundation, a non-governmental, and not-for-profit organization that provides social and economic empowerment to Survivors and Victims of Gender-Based Violence and disadvantaged communities across Nigeria.

She loves and enjoys working with families and children and this has led her to volunteer with organizations that share the same vision namely Rescue Village Africa, Heartminders Initiative, Amazing Amazon Initiative, and Black Diamond Support Foundation to name a few.

She has gone on numerous campaigns to schools and communities and has participated in road rallies to raise awareness on child sexual abuse and the rights of the African Child, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and Gender inequality.

Her passion has led her to attend various courses tailored to child safety and sexual abuse prevention.

Omobolanle is a firm believer in securing a safe and well-balanced environment free from all forms of Violence. A true global change agent, while speaking with Women of Rubies, she gave this explorative insights on her journey;

Childhood Influence

I grew up , pretty much sheltered with my siblings , not going out much and spent a lot of time with my Grandma who was the resident conflict resolver in her area.

People would come to her with their issues and I’d watch her listen and then help sort whatever the issue was and soothe hurt tempers.

Same with helping those in need, no one came to her door in tears and left the same, she had a solution to every challenge.

She would always give back or give out to whoever was in need and when thanked she would say she was but a servant of Allah doing his bidding.

Watching my grandma (God rest her soul) advocate for what was right no matter if it got her on the wrong side of people and her big heart when it came to giving ,shaped me into the woman I am today.

My parents aren’t any different and till date still help whoever comes to their door.

Inspiration Behind Bina Al- Amal foundation?

My deep passion  to effect lasting change in people’s live that made a real difference was the inspiration behind the foundation.

I’d gone on numerous Sexual Abuse awareness campaigns and the stories of abuse we heard stayed with me, I wanted to do more.

Watching children and women roam the streets without a roof over their head and no access to basic amenities and the high numbers of women who would turn up for Empowerment programs worried me a lot, and after a summer school project at an informal settlement in 2019

My mind was made up, I knew what I had to do.

Managing life as a certified trauma counsellor, NLP practitioner and a GBV advocate, 

Each role requires a lot of energy and focus and  I’ve been able to merge all into one and balance them all.

It’s not been easy but managing my time and prioritizing has helped me maintain the balance needed to flourish.

Experience as a multiple hand volunteer for several organizations

It’s been very educative, each volunteer role came from a personal experience and working for each Organization has taught me lot of things ranging from leadership, rapport and communication building, conflict resolution among other things.

It’s an experience I won’t trade for anything.

My work at Bina Al-Amal foundation, and its impact since inception

At Bina Al-Amal Foundation we provide the support , encouragement and empowerment to that people who live in informal settlements and we also provide the interventions needed for Survivors and Victims of Gender Based Violence .

Basically we offer prevention and intervention against Child Abuse, Rape, domestic violence, and all forms of violence against children and women while Providing prompt sensitive and psychosocial support to survivors of abuse and ensuring perpetrator is prosecuted, Provision of sexual abuse awareness programs to engage and enlighten Teenagers and young Adults on Sexual and Gender based violence and the need to be more socially and morally aware while providing the necessary psychosocial support ,   Provision of temporary shelters for the homeless for women especially women and families who had gone through one forms of abuse and those who live in informal settlements (shanties and rural areas),

Empowerment for women in rural and vulnerable communities and Free Education for children in rural and vulnerable communities.

Our impact since inception has been amazing.

For our survivors and Victims of Sexual and Gender based Violence, we have been able to offer psychosocial and intervention services to at least 10 families and counting.

For our informal community recipients , we have been able to offer education to over 100 of the children in the informal community as well as provision of palliative during the covid -19 lockdown.

Our teen conferences designed to educate and empower young adults has reached over 100 youths and counting, providing them with information on the dangers of sexual and gender based violence and the importance of leadership skills

Work Challenges

Our major challenge has been getting the required amount of help our informal settlement residents in terms of the shelter need as they are constantly being evicted

Another challenge is their belief system , they feel they have no hope and no one cares about them.

For our Survivors and Victims it’s tackling the silence and stigmatization that doesn’t encourage them to open up freely about their experiences

For our teens and young adults it’s helping them with the difficult choices and temptations they face in a world where information overload is everywhere. 

Other projects and activities?

We are working on a building a stable environment for our informal settlement residents and helping them create a better quality of life through Empowerment and Job creating programmes.

A group therapy hub for our Trauma warriors and a teen hub for our Young adults to help them cope with this fat paced world.

3 Women Who Inspire Me

Christiane Amanpour, Oreoluwa Adebiyi and Mrs Achenyo Idachaba for their fearlessness in reporting the truth,  Their can do attitude and above all love for humanity.

They inspire me to be a better version of myself and to continue to push through even when people don’t understand the journey.

My experience at social Innovators Bootcamp and its forthcoming impact

To be honest , I’d joined the bootcamp to achieve two things: to gain clarity and get the structure needed and to come 2nd was a bit of a shock. I never imagined I’d make it to the top 3. It was a humbling experience for me, I gained so much more than what I signed up for.

My SIBC Experience taught me one valuable lesson, I’m doing something right and this is going to set the tone for a lot of our activities moving forward at Bina Al-Amal Foundation.

Right steps to take in reporting a case of Domestic Violence & Rape.

For Both cases the most important thing  and the first step is to Document evidence.

For a rape victim the best way to Document evidence is to go as soon they are able to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre preferably Mirabel Centre to get checked by a doctor and to get the medical attention needed

For a Domestic Violence Victim, we encourage them to take pictures of bruises, take voice recordings only if it is safe to do so.

Next step is to go to a police station to report the case. At the station, ask for their Gender Desk or Family Support Unit.

After this the police would ask for evidence of assault to which a letter  would be sent to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre who carried out the examination for the rape victim.

For the Domestic Violence Victim, evidence would also be collected.

How to overcome Trauma, and stay grounded

In handling Trauma, I encourage client’s to

1)Give yourself time. It takes time – weeks or months – to accept what has happened and to learn to live with it,take it one step at a time.

2)Acknowledging your experience,that way, you can start to understand what drives your feelings of fear and anxiety, and change your perspective over time.

3) Join a Support Group, being involved with other survivors of trauma, sometimes hearing others and knowing you’re not alone offers you some of the comfort needed.

4)Ask for support from family and friends willing to help, don’t isolate yourself.

5)Take some time for yourself: It’s okay to want to be by yourself or with close family and friends

6)Talk it over with a Professional. This is where therapy comes in to give a more grounded sense of healing.

7)Get into a routine to resting a sense of normalcy

8) Exercise.

On staying grounded:

1)Appreciate life’s simple pleasures.

2)Practice gratitude.

3)Take a break.

4)Prioritize your mental and emotional health.

5)Be the change you want to see in the world.

6)Stay active.

As a Woman of Rubies

What makes me a Woman of Rubies is my selfless character and passion to see a fellow woman attain great heights and my not giving up on those who need me.

Social Media Handles:

Email: omobolanleajijola@gmail.com

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/ajijolabolanle

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/bolanleajijola.3

LinkedIn

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ajijola-bolanle

 

 

To commemorate June 16th as International Day of the African Child, media personality and entrepreneur Munirat “Anto” Lecky has revealed plans to launch the Edo Babes Are Fly Initiative to promote girl child education, empowerment and skills acquisition, and reduce the rate of gender-based violence and sex trafficking in Edo State. Through her NGO, Anto Lecky alongside Musleehat Hamadu, plan to use the Edo Babes Are Fly Initiative to combat the many issues facing women from Edo State. Edo State is known as Nigeria’s capital for human trafficking, especially of young women and girls. According to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM), 94% of women trafficked to Europe from Nigeria are from Edo State.

To kick-off, the initiative is celebrating history made and history in the making by paying homage to great women who have shaped and are shaping Edo history and Nigeria at large with an educational tribute photoshoot featuring some favourites in the Nigerian entertainment industry.

These women include: Anto Lecky herself as Queen Idia, the Queen Mother and a cultural symbol of modern-day Nigeria; Jemima Osunde, Physiotherapist and Actress, as Princess Elizabeth Olowu, the first female bronze caster in Nigeria; Idia Aisien, Actor and TV Host, as Mabel Dorothy Segun, broadcaster, author, and first Nigerian woman to play table tennis; Arese Ugwu, Author and Executive Producer, as Osaretin Demuren, First Female Chairman of Guaranty Trust Bank; Vanessa “Vandora” Williams, TV Presenter and Influencer, as Prof. Lilian Salami, current and second female Chancellor of the University of Benin; Linda Osifo, Actress and Brand Ambassador, as Aisha Yesufu, socio-political activist and convener of Bring Back Our Girls Movement; Winfrey Dania Okolo, Media Personality and Lawyer, as Omosede Igbinedion, lawyer and youngest female member into the 8th Assembly of the House of Representatives (Nigeria).

Anto Lecky says her initiative will celebrate Edo women both home and abroad who contribute immensely to the betterment of society and also spur the younger generation to attain greater heights. She noted that the tribute photo shoot is a reminder of the giant strides that women of Edo extraction have made, and continue to make.

“I’m inspired by the stories of all of these women we are paying tribute to, and my colleagues who were so earnest to be the muses for the project. All of these women are role models for girls around the world. We decided to pay homage to these women, while encouraging other Edo women that they are “fly”, and can soar above any stereotype” She said

 

She also revealed that the Edo Babes Are Fly initiative is one of the many works the Live Wire Project will be championing. “We plan to host impactful events on key days, and offer educational & skills acquisition resources.” “We hope to share the stories of survivors of sexual violence and trafficking. We also hope to partner with international organizations and to amplify the efforts of domestic organizations that need celebrity backing.” She further added.

Anto Lecky is not new to celebrating Nigerian and African women. She hosts a talk show on Ogelle Africa titled “She’s A Boss” celebrating African women who strive and thrive; and has paid tribute to some of her favorite women in the Nigerian entertainment industry on International Women’s Day.

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connect with The Live Wire Project on Instagram @thelivewireproject or email livewireprojectng@gmail.com.

 

 

“The world is waiting for you to unleash your greatness.” – Odunayo Sanya.

Our ‘Woman in Leadership’ this week is Odunayo Sanya.

Odunayo is a Nigerian executive with over 23 years of experience in the corporate world. She currently serves as the Executive Secretary of the MTN Nigeria Foundation. Her work experience spans education, financial services, telecommunications and development sectors. She is a gifted writer who received widespread acclaim for her book ‘Alphabets of Leadership for Young Minds,’ which she published in 2019.

Odunayo is an International speaker. A Certified Coach, Speaker, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team. She is an alumna of the Lagos Business School and the Institute of Management Development Switzerland, with executive training from the Harvard Business School and Cornell University.

She is also the convener of the ‘Thrive Circle’ a mentorship platform which she describes as her ‘pandemic story’. The Thrive Circle is a platform for individuals seeking growth in life and career. Odunayo is passionate about youth empowerment, leadership, mentorship, and nation building. In 2019, she received the Marketing World ‘Customer Service Thought Leader Award’ in Accra, Ghana. She was the 2019 Global Leadership Program Speaker at Coventry University in the United Kingdom. She shares her inspiring journey in this exclusive interview.

Interview with Odunayo Sanya

Childhood Influence

First, I’d like to thank Women of Rubies for having me and for creating this platform to showcase and encourage women. My childhood was exciting with a disciplinarian as a dad. I was brought up to cherish family – I come from a close-knit family of nine; Dad, Mum, 2 boys and 5 girls.

 

My childhood was in Lagos. From a young age, my parents taught me (likewise my siblings) to embrace the world with an open mind, this found expression in the choice of schools i attended – F.G.G.C Akure (Ondo State) & New-Bussa (Niger State). The choice of the boarding house shaped me and strengthened my sense of independence. I learnt diversity and inclusion from my parents, they never discriminated. The boarding house helped my social skills, it opened me up to interactions with diverse individuals and great minds. I was brought up to be comfortable in my skin and to strive for excellence. At a point in primary school, my dad taught me maths after school. I learnt from my parents that “putting in a word for someone is easier when the individual brings value to the table.”

Adventure was a pastime for my parents as i was encouraged to take some bold steps – i recall my dad seeing an advert in the newspapers for a new university that is, University of Abuja and he encouraged me to apply though we knew no one in Abuja at that time. And yes! I got the admission and as they say, the rest is history. I spent my Youth Service year in a small village called Ukpa in Ogoja, Cross Rivers State. My first job was outside Lagos (my parents lived and still live in Lagos). As a child I had a prayerful Grandma who taught me about God.

I would say YES, my childhood prepared me in more ways than one.

 

Inspiration behind The Thrive Circle

I have a strong passion for people, and I get very excited when individuals realize their potential. Someone described me as a ‘serial mentor’ (lol!). I had a strong desire to birth a platform for sharing knowledge that will enable individuals to thrive in their neck of the woods. The perfect opportunity came with the COVID-19 pandemic, the fear in the air was palpable and the confusion was like we had never known, i had a conviction within me that this was the right time. The first session was tagged ‘Finding Strength in Adversity.’ It’s been twenty-two speakers and thirty-one sessions after, ‘Thrive Circle’ is still standing. We are a community committed to learning.

 

The Journey so far

I am grateful for the journey. It has tested my resilience. I have expanded my network of friends and acquaintances. My knowledge horizon has been broadened, topics such as; Entrepreneurship, The Future of work, Mental Health, Crucial Conversations, Strategy, Emotional Intelligence, Conflict Management, Ethics, Risk Management and many more have been discussed in the Thrive Circle. We have also played host to accomplished professionals as our speakers. The future for Thrive Circle is bright – watch out.

 

Impact of being an International Speaker, and Certified Coach 

My first international speaking engagement was borne of the need to affirm myself. I had a strong desire to share my thoughts with other professionals and enrich the discussions in the field of Customer Experience. Was i scared? Yes, I was. Did it go well? Yes, it did and opened more opportunities for me. We are all speakers, and our voices are gifts from the ‘Grand Overall Designer’ (GOD). The question is ‘How are we using it? I am also a John Maxwell Certified Coach.

 

 

Being a Coach and a Speaker has enabled my growth and depth. As it is said, ‘Sameness is the death of a speaker’ and since I don’t want to die yet (lol!) it keeps me on my toes to keep gleaning new knowledge and applying them to my life. In terms of impact, i am a much better individual, leader, team member, mother, wife and member of the society. It has helped me with the mastery of human relationships and excellent delivery people. The most important impact is the privilege of connecting people to their aspirations and potentials. Speaking whether as a hobby or professionally is 99% about the audience (listener) and maybe 1% about the speaker.

 

My Customer Thought Leader Award, 2021 Sales Ruby Influencer Award & recognition as one of the Top 100 Career Women

 

These awards came as surprises. I recall for the sales Ruby award, I was getting ready to retire for the night and I got a message from a secondary school friend that she had voted. I was at a loss, I asked her what for, she then laughed at me and sent me the link to nominations. It however feels good when one’s good work is recognized by others. It really is humbling. I see this as a call to do more and be more.

 

Challenges of My Work at MTN Nigeria

On a lighter note, I have been working from home for over a year now and enjoying every bit of it. One of the greatest challenges of WFH is the near loss of work-life-balance. I self regulate and try to keep to a time regime to prevent any form of burn out. My Organization also ensures we keep to healthy work regimes.Challenges are a constant part of life. These challenges are opportunities in disguise. My work keeps me on my toes and presents me with the opportunity to serve and innovate. Creating and implementing service experiences and engagement strategies for 75m customers is a huge responsibility. I recently, changed roles and I look forward to the opportunity of enabling people and communities through the MTN Nigeria Foundation.

 

Other Projects & Activities

I am an Author. My book ‘Alphabets of Leadership for Young Minds’ is listed in the United States Library of Congress, it is targeted at youth ages 10 – 16. I desired to give my oldest daughter a journal filled with my thoughts on various leadership topics as she moved into the boarding house. The journal was to help her navigate the new phase of her life and be a valued member of her community. The journal became the book.

My work with youths through the John Maxwell Team exposed me to the dearth of understanding of Leadership at that level – it has been positioned as the exclusive preserve of adults. The book is my contribution to nation building. I decided to put down my thoughts and make it available to every Youth. The book is listed in the United States Library of Congress and available on:

It is also available at Laterna Ventures, Oko Awo Street, Victoria Island Lagos

 

3 Women Who Inspire Me to Be Better And Why

My Grandmother of blessed memory – she taught me to love God.

My Mum – she taught me resilience.

Mother Theresa – She embodied the fact that Leadership and purpose are conjoined, when you walk in purpose you will Lead. Most important, her life teaches that you don’t need a position to lead. Lead from wherever you are.

 

 Advice to Young Women Who Wish to Be Trailblazers Like Me

 

1) ‘The world is waiting for you to unleash your greatness, don’t negotiate away your purpose in the face of seeming difficulties.’

2) ‘Dreams are free but the journey is not’

3) ‘You are limitless until you tell yourself otherwise’

4) ‘Let the quality of your work speak for you when you are not there’

5) ‘Be comfortable being you.’

 

Being a Woman of Rubies

Hmmm!! I should be asking you that question.

First, is that God says my worth is far above rubies – Prov 31.

Second is that I carry in me the seed of greatness and I am nurturing it.

Third is that I seek to add value to the people and environments I find myself in.

Maybe you should carry out a survey and let us compare the results.

 

 

You can connect with Odunayo Sanya through her handles below:

 

Linkedin – odunayo moritiwon sanya

Instagram – Odunayo.Sanya

Facebook – Odun Moritiwon Sanya

Eniola Opaleye is a phone product photographer and a law graduate. Her ability to create appealing product pictures with her mobile phone stands her out amongst several product photographers. She has shot countless images of products with international standard.

She currently has a telegram community of over 300 members where she teaches basic tips on product photography. Eniola doesn’t believe in giving up on her dreams irrespective of challenges faced. One of her product pictures trended on the bird app (twitter) and attracted the recognition of influencers and foreign communities. Asides taking product pictures she interns with a consulting firm.

She shares her journey with Women of Rubies on this interview;

Childhood Influence

I was very creative while growing up and it has helped my journey as a phone product photographer changing the way product pictures are shot in Nigeria. I was that child that loved hair styling and makeup so much that I would plead with my mum and sisters to practice with their hair and face, you know how last born can be? I pestered till they agreed to be my model. So I was sure I was either going to learn the art of makeup or hair styling, but then I kept procrastinating to take the step till I gained admission to study law and I just didn’t enrol to learn either of the two till date. I remember I had a mini doll I made hair for passionately (laughs).

My Inspiration Behind Photography

I was in a space I couldn’t continue with street photography I started with last year during the lockdown. Then I asked myself “what can I do?”. Immediately it struck me I could take beautiful shots of random product I have at home. Gradually, I improved and some pictures of small business owner’s product I saw on Instagram on a particular day made me realize there is a market that needs a solution. A lot of vendors don’t know how important good pictures help sell their product, I saw that and decided to proffer that solution with what I have.

The journey so far

It has been interesting. I started with little or no recognition to being recognised across several countries. I can recall lots of people didn’t understand what I was doing and they felt it was a child’s play. I started doubting my skill and said I would stop phone product photography till I get a camera but see who is getting paid for the skill she didn’t give up on. I’m also learning every day, using props that I wasn’t aware of and the beautiful thing is I come across products I haven’t seen or used before.  I’m optimistic about this journey and the opportunities lined up for me. 

Impact Of My Journey As A Law Graduate Currently Working In A Consulting Firm

It has been in several ways; the firm has helped improve my work ethic and client interaction. This is what I have also implemented in my business and life, how to engage with clients, communication and negotiation skills, and also maintaining good relationship with people. I have learnt to understand people differently and manage situations. Also, learning how to meet deadlines is also important in this business. Clients want you to deliver and you don’t want to be perceived as a lazy photographer who doesn’t keep to deadlines.

The Amazing Feat Of How One Of My Product Pictures Trended Recently

It was a dream come through and a perfect birthday gift. I have been posting pictures on the bird app but gained little recognition, however I didn’t give up. It was a win I deserved and it attracted influencers which opened up several opportunities that I had to turn down some. It made me realize I needed a community/group where I could help other aspiring product photographers with some tips on product photography. The amazing part of my work is, I inspire other phone product photographers who feel they can’t be recognised to keep creating and that makes me happy.

My Current Experience With Photography And What I Hope To Achieve In The Future

I am enjoying the ride, perfecting my skill, building my profile and ensuring client satisfaction. I see my brand creating appealing product pictures for top brands, teaching millions of small business owners across the world how to create eye-catching product pictures just from their home and hopefully in cooperate phone videography while building my profile as a seasoned legal practitioner.

Challenges 

Meeting demands and showing up with good content can be overwhelming considering it’s just me and the brand for now. Then investing in photography equipment can be expensive but gradually I will balance it up.

My Other Projects And Activities.

I love design, so it’s a skill I’m trying to perfect because I need it for my brand as well. It has helped me create simple graphics for my Instagram page and some other projects. I’m working on video content for small business owners but it is still in the works so when it’s ready it will be available for all to see. 

Three Women Who Inspire Me To Be Better And Why

I really admire Mazbricreative’s work, her product pictures are standard, colourful and she has worked with several known brands. I also watch her behind the scenes and see how creative she is, this helps me to get creative with all my pictures.

Amanda Campeanu is a commercial brand photographer based in Brisbane, I love her ability to teach with her Youtube videos and this has really helped my product styling.

Ty Bello is amazing and good at what she does, she has built her brand over the years and I aspire to follow that path. She gives me hope that being a woman in this line of work shouldn’t be a limitation but an advantage.

My Advice To Young Women

Don’t let anyone kill your dreams, you have the power to decide how you want your life to turn out with the help of God, so take charge. Always know what you want, it helps you to make specific decisions and if you don’t know what you want, go to God, watch that thing people are saying you are good at and build the skill till you perfect it. Lastly, have the right people in your corner they will always be there to lift you up when you feel discouraged and be prepared for the growth you desire. 

As A Woman Of Rubies

I am a sought after woman who possess value. I inspire other women to become better version of themselves through my consistency, discipline and desire for success.

 

Stacey Fru, 14-year-old Africa’s youngest award winning Author, Education Activist, Philanthropist and Public Speaker.

At age 7, she wrote her first book; ‘Smelly Cats’ without her parents’ knowledge.

The book was approved by the South African Department of Basic Education as suitable for young learners from Early Childhood through to Primary Schools and won 3 awards.

She is the founder of The Stacey Fru Foundation that reach out to donate books, computers, food and other items to children and care homes across South Africa.

Through her foundation, she also honours other African children who are impacting their communities by awarding them during The Annual African Children of the Year Awards held every November in South Africa. Stacey Fru has written 5 best-selling books thus far and she is currently the face of the African Union (AU) and International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) 2021 International Campaign for the Elimination of Child Labour #EndChildLabour.

Facebook will begin offering paid leave to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, the company announced Wednesday, allowing workers up to 20 additional paid days off.

Facebook will let victims of domestic violence or sexual assault take up to 20 days paid leave “if an employee, an employee’s family or other household member experiences domestic abuse,” COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a post announcing the policy.

Facebook previously offered unpaid leave to U.S. workers who were victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and the new policy applies to employees globally.

According to Bloomberg, employees will only have to tell their managers they need to take emergency leave, and “will later be identified as domestic abuse or crime victims in internal systems that only human resources managers have access to.”

Police reports or other documentation are not required to use the policy, Facebook said, and workers will not be required to prove they are victims.

Sandberg cited rising domestic violence during the pandemic as a reason for the policy, saying “we all have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent it and help those who go through these awful experiences.”

Source: Forbes

A single mom of 7 turned her last $5 into a million-dollar cupcake business, AfroTech reports.

Mignon Francois struggled financially to support her family between 2005-2007 after a job offer for her former husband fell through. A neighbor knew her plight and penchant for baking and offered her an opportunity to turn her situation around. She put in a request for 600 cupcakes at $1 each.

With just $5 to her name, Francois wasn’t sure how she would make it work, but she used her last bit of coin to purchase the ingredients, baking 60 cupcakes, and gaining a $60 profit that same day to buy the rest of what she needed. She launched The Cupcake Collection, selling custom cakes and cupcakes and growing her small business which now generates more than $1 million annually. 

While she is proud of herself, her journey was not without its share of challenges. As a Black woman, one of the biggest obstacles Francois faced was funding. Instead of relying on banks and facing loan denials, overdraft fees, or credit card debt, Francois relied on an old envelope system trick. 

“I think a lot of times in my community, we often have been used to rejection from banks. Having my money in a bank account at that time, if I had messed up even a dollar, it would have caused me to get a bank overdraft, which would’ve cost me $30, and then that’s just a vicious cycle of snowballing in a negative way,” she said.

The entrepreneur used the system to designate her money via envelopes, categorizing her profit into an emergency fund, set a budget, and a debt snowball method to help reel her finances in. Today, the New Orleans native uses her story to help others. 

As a now successful entrepreneur, Francois has begun paying it forward, funding scholarships at Tennessee State University, and partnering with community organizers to support education and food insecurity efforts. She also sits on the Pathways Women’s Business Center and Nashville Entrepreneur Center board and works with grassroots organization Corner to Corner to help other aspiring business owners. 

To learn more about Francois and the work she’s doing, visit The Cupcake Collection.

Congratulations Mignon!

Source: Becauseofthemwecan