One woman’s rise against all odds to be all that God has destined her to be.

On a chilling morning, with a push from my mother, I summoned the courage to approach my father to discuss furthering my studies by applying for the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) exams that would secure an admission into the University in my home country, Nigeria. It was like approaching a judge in a court room. I could not see anything, all I was interested in was my father’s verdict regards my aspiration.

Prior to this time, I had received my General Certificate of Examination (Ordinary Level) with 5 credits and a pass, and I was confident that with the result I would not have any challenges gaining admission to the university to study my desired course, Law. However, despite my excellent results and the hope for a greater future, the reality was, none of my sisters had gone past high school – my father had one reason or the other why they ‘could’ not be educated beyond high school. So, it was an aberration that I thought my case would be different from my sisters’.

My father told me, in a soft tone, “I have no plans to sponsor your education to a higher institution. I have secured a job for you at the Ondo state Radio Broadcasting Corporation instead.” I felt like a mortar was dropped on my head; faint and dizzy, like I was going to pass out. It was as though, I was locked up in a dark tunnel and I felt something was snuffing life out of me. I felt there was no hope for me. I felt ashamed that I had the guts to think I was different from my sister or I could attain a brighter future than my sisters. It made me angry because I felt trapped by my father’s domineering pronouncement. I thanked him, and walked away from him.

When he left for work that weekend, I ran away from home. I had to run for my life. I learnt that although, I thought my father had all the financial power to determine my future then, I needed to get educated. I understood that I had the power within me to decide what my future would be. I did not understand the influence of culture on how he treated my self and my sisters then, now I understand the place of patriarchy and its dominance. Nothing changed my father’s mindset – he believed it is best that a girl should be educated to a high school grade, get a job and get married. I knew what was best for me and I sought no permission from anyone to be who God had made me to be.

Today, in most cultures, women are considered second class citizens, the weak, dependent, frivolous, seductive, and foolish one. They are thought particularly to be incapable of foresight and to lack the capacity to make and carry through sensible and realistic plans. Women and girls suffer all forms of violence in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation and harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

However, women can be powerful agents of change. In this light, it is pertinent that ensuring women and girls rights are fully realized and their empowerment have a transformative and multiplier effect on sustainable development. Empowering women will ensure their full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision- making in political, economic and public. It is important to have gender equality and women’s empowerment and the full realization of human rights for women and girls as it impacts on a transformative and multiplier effect on sustainable development and is a driver of economic growth in all nations.I have come a mighty long way since that moment with my father.

In 2012, I completed my doctoral studies exploring the Adjustment of African women living in New Zealand: A Narrative Study. I have also authored two books, ‘Fragrance of Influence’ and ‘The Fragrance of Motherhood.’ I am currently on a mission to build the Purpose to Influence School for Girls by 2030, and provide a fully funded education for girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. This will transform the lives of 5,000 girls through a fully funded, wrap-around, boarding school education.

I am convinced that girls deserve the opportunities. The more girls are helped to become leaders and role models, the better off our society will be. Transformed by the power of an excellent education, these girls will become the mothers, achievers and change agents.It is interesting to note today, that I am a mother of two beautiful girls who are celebrated by my husband and his loving family. This changed the trajectory I personally witnessed. Indeed an African girl child, can be desired, nurtured and celebrated.

About Adesayo

Dr Adesayo Adelowo is on a mission to empower women and girls raise their visibility and make meaning of their purpose to influence the world – a mission she has pursued for over two decades through teaching, providing practical tools, imparting knowledge, and sharing experience, strength, and hope. Adesayo is the Chief Executive Officer and the founder of Fragrance of Influence, an organization set up to prepare women for life through education, mentoring and coaching. Adesayo has a great passion for womanhood with a divine purpose on earth, in fact her doctoral studies, “The Adjustment of African Immigrant Women Living in New Zealand: A narrative study”, explored African women stories of resilience in a foreign land. She has an extensive experience as a lecturer in Social Work, Counselling and Mental Health and she has used her skills and talents to encourage and mentor women to become the best that God has created them to be.

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