Have you ever pictured a seven-year-old girl having her period? We need to drop the shame and start talking more openly and honestly about menstruation. We are gradually getting to a point where this age, will be the starting age for menstruation as opposed to starting as a teenager. There is a need to further sensitize future mothers and fathers about this. It is not something to shy away from. It is a normal biological process every woman must go through. Bisola Adeyemi is a Chartered Accountant, Entrepreneur, Affiliate Marketer, and Girl Child Advocate. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State, and an associate certificate from the prestigious Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.
She also recently got certified as a Programme Presenter under the Global Goodwill Ambassadors Foundation for their “My Body is My Body” campaign.Bisola started her NGO in her final year at the University, in 2016. Despite all odds and restrictions she experienced in school, she was able to reach out to communities around Ilishan Remo and Iperu Remo Ogun State, with information about menstruation, menstrual hygiene, including its truths, and myths. This was made possible with the help of volunteers and friends. She later registered her NGO, Bevy of the Elites Foundation with the Corporate Affairs Commission in 2018. Since its inception, the organization has reached out to over 4500 girls with information and sanitary pads.
She shares her “Ruby Girl” story with the team.
1. Let’s meet you, Bisola. How can you describe your childhood?
My full name is Adeyemi Bisola Elizabeth. I am a believer in Jesus Christ and his finished works. I am the 3rd of 6 children- 5 girls and a boy. I am from Osun State. I love to travel and have meaningful conversations. I had the most memorable childhood, from attending school to outdoor games, church activities, school and church competitions, amongst others that have helped shape me into who I am today.
2. When did you conceive Bevy of the Elites Foundation? Any major event that led to it?
It was in 2016. I went for a group mentorship session, and I heard God clearly instruct that I start a foundation to teach girls about menstruation, menstrual hygiene, chastity, body awareness, and family involvement in children’s development. It was formerly “The Girl Child Foundation” but due to the popularity of the name, we were not able to register it with the Corporate Affairs Commission. This prompted my siblings and I to come up with the name “Bevy of the Elites Foundation” which clearly explains our vision and mission, that is: Group of the learned where people, particularly the female gender can learn about their body and development.
3. What are the greatest myths that have affected menstruation and menstrual hygiene over the years?
The very common myth- If any guy touches you as a lady, you’ll get pregnant. This myth has been around for as long as I can remember, and I think it is one that has come to stay. Of course, as we grow older, we get to know that not physical touch, but sexual intercourse gets a lady pregnant. This has caused a lot of girls their self-esteem. This has also led to a lot of issues ranging from lesbianism, rage amongst others because teenagers are not told the clear truth from their childhood.
Another myth is that purchasing sanitary materials like pads should be kept private and hidden in non-transparent nylons. Whereas sanitary pad is like buying toothpaste, bathing soap, and the rest. They are all personal hygiene products.
I also hear a lot that a girl should not talk about her period in public as it is a shameful thing and makes one vulnerable when in fact it is not something to be ashamed of.
4. Your favorite quote/mantra?
My favorite quote/mantra is “Menstruation matters.”
5. Was there ever the need to sacrifice school for the execution of a project at Bevy of Elites Foundation?
I attended a school where we were only allowed to leave the school environment once a week. I had to plan my calendar to accommodate the NGO programs, in schools around Ilishan Remo and Iperu Remo Ogun State. Most of the time, I usually convey with my friends after the day’s lectures which must have been well planned out.
So, have I ever sacrificed school for any of the Foundation’s execution of a project? Yes! Many times! Shout out to my friends and volunteers that always come through.
6. Despite having a tight schedule as an undergraduate in a private institution, how were you able to scale through making your dream a reality?
I am a go-getter. Once I set my mind to do something, I do! So as an undergraduate, who has heard God speak about this vision. I immediately ran with it. There were times that I also had issues with the hall administrator due to the time of arrival in the hostel, but I had to explain all these over and again and God always show up for us; me and my friends. I must confess, it was not easy, but it only lasted for 1 year in University, after I graduated, I had all the time to do several projects.
7. As a Girl Child advocate, what is your stake on the ever-rising issue of rape in the country?
A common assumption is that rapes are mostly committed by strangers which is wrong. The majority of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. Also, no type of clothing is an invitation for sex or implies consent. What a woman was wearing when she was raped is simply not relevant. Rape is never the victim’s fault.
That established, the issue of rape in Nigeria is increasing by the day and all children and teenagers should be educated about this. Parents have a role to play as well. Most children communicate assault to their parent/guardian, but they do not take the kids seriously which is why rape gets through most of the time.
In many of our programs at Bevy of the Elites Foundation, we have now incorporated the ‘My Body is My Body Campaign’ because we get several girls speaking out about their rape incidence and how they are not safe around particular set of people and we are also trying our best to ensure that the information about rape is well communicated and handled appropriately.
8. Has Accounting always been your dream profession? Any childhood ambitions?
Well, I will say growing up, it was either you choose to be a Lawyer, Accountant, Medical Doctor, or Engineer. I went with the trend at the time and settled to be an Accountant since I chose the commercial line back in secondary school. I would otherwise have become a teacher. I love to teach and that’s one of the things I enjoy doing at Bevy of the Elites Foundation and some other places like the church I attend, Celebration Church International.
9. If you were to be the president of Nigeria for a day, which policies would you implement, or changes would you effect?
Changes as regards menstruation and availability of sanitary pads. I will make sure every school has a sanitary pad bank where girls can walk in freely to pick up pads on or before their period.
I will also sign a bill for all girls to attend school up to the University level. No girl should be left behind because of some cultural beliefs that girls are meant to be in the kitchen.
I will also make sure that the educational curriculum in primary and secondary schools is revamped to reflect the reality of the world we live in.
10. Any memorable event since the inception of Bevy of the Elites Foundation or most tasking outreach?
All our events/outreaches are memorable as we get to meet different girls. I will say the most memorable event was when we reached out to girls in Babs Fafunwa (Senior and Grammar Schools) Ojodu, Berger in 2019. The girls came out in their numbers. Everyone got a sanitary pad and was happy. You could literally see the glow in their eyes. I also remembered a community outreach we had in Ikenne Palace, Ogun State where myself and a partner had to publicize the programme on HOPE FM. Many young girls were enlightened and I also learnt a lot from that community with regard to their way of life and hygiene practices.
11. Mention 3 women who inspire you and why?
My mum- she is a go-getter. Ever heard of anyone who always knocks out her goals, she does every single time.
Ola Sulaimon- She inspires me because she runs an NGO and is a Chartered Accountant. We have a lot of things in common from the university we attended to how we have patterned our life to be.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala- The first woman appointed to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO). I mean, she is a woman changing the status quo for the rest of us.
12. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I see myself exactly where God will have me be. Reaching the world for God and contributing my quota to humanity.
13. If you were given the opportunity to address a group of girls five years younger than you, what will be your advice to them?
Put societal pressure out of the way. Societal pressure reduces the level of self-esteem and self-confidence. Some examples are, the ways in which ladies are pressured to get married and have children, and even after having a child, the pressure continues as to when the next child will come, pressures like judgment solely on appearance, pressure to have sex, and abuse substance amongst others. I will let them know that they should not pattern their lives after societal pressure, or they will burn out.
Thank you for your time, ma.