I was raised by extraordinary women who taught me quiet strength. First my mother, a very strong woman with a rather fragile demeanour, very kind and caring, but also very firm and highly opinionated. Then, my aunties during occasional long and short holidays. All working class women that seemed to perfectly balance career, home and everything in between. Going on to those I’ve met in my career journey; all fierce, relentless and driven women who seem to have their lives together. From these phenomenal women, I learned that I had a right in this world, I have a voice and an opinion. From these women I gained the confidence that I could do anything I set my mind to do. One thing is common about all of them; they are all EMPOWERED!
Unfortunately, not all girls have the opportunity to be raised by such women or even become one. I have been privileged to meet a lot of girls and young women during the course of my work. These girls have big dreams and desire the best lives for themselves and their families but the society has in one way or the other hindered them. Nigeria is a patriarchal society. Men are seen as leaders in almost all circles and women are raised to assume subordinate positions. For most women in Nigeria, poverty begins from the denial of basic education and equal economic opportunities that are readily available to men.
ACE Charity in partnership with Transcorp Hilton Abuja through the Business Empowerment Program for Women (BEPW); bi-annually empowers four (4) sets of young women with basic sewing skills and basic business, accounting and management skills which will enable them gain necessary knowledge for establishing and managing their own businesses independently.
I supervised the second set of BEPW ladies. Daily, I watched them learn keenly and conquer challenges they encountered. With time, their tutor became a facilitator and it was exciting seeing them wear the outfits they made. Being their supervisor was not a walk in the park but it was very well worth every effort. Nothing thrills me more than seeing ladies who just need a little push, and the necessary keys to unlock the fire within them.
The BEPW 2 ladies began their training as individual novices for the most part, but with time I watched them morph into a sisterhood of women who were equipped and ready to do great for themselves and their world. It was no wonder that their graduation ceremony was a colourful display of their acquired skills through the runway show they put together. It was quite an emotional experience for me as they performed beyond expectation and showed significant growth in just four (4) months.
As Michelle Obama said;
“The difference between a struggling family and a healthy family is the presence of an empowered woman”
At ACE Charity, we will not relent in our efforts to ensure that every girl/woman enjoys equal opportunities through economic empowerment.