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Equal Rights for Women
Throughout history, women have not always had access to the same rights as men. More recently, women are increasingly demanding and fighting for equal rights, especially by women who witness the oppression or have lived subject to the inequalities. Here are five women who are taking leadership in advancing equal rights for women.

5 Women Advancing Equal Rights for Women

  1. Malala Yousafzai, alongside her father, established the Malala Fund. In 2012, the Taliban targeted Malala, a vocal advocate for a girl’s right to education, and shot her on the left side of her head on her way home from school. When Malala recovered, she decided that she wanted to continue fighting for education for girls around the world. With the allyship of her father, she established the Malala Fund. It supports educators in eight different countries with $22 million invested in Malala Fund campaigns. Malala Yousafzai is a woman advancing equal rights for women by advocating for every girl’s right to an education as well as financially supporting schools for women in various countries.
  2. Gabby Edlin is the founder of The Bloody Good Period Campaign. While volunteering at a refugee center, she noticed that women did not receive menstrual products with their kit of essentials. Gabby started a small campaign on Facebook, and the interest in helping women grew. This led to her creating The Bloody Good Period Campaign, overcoming resistance from men who did not believe that the resource was a necessity. Bloody Good Period focuses its efforts on asylum-seeking women who are unable to purchase food or other necessities because of their need to purchase menstrual products; it seeks to educate women and destigmatize menstruation. Gabby Edlin is a woman advancing equal rights for women by educating and garnering the support of the public. She also uses the funds to provide menstrual product needs to refugees.
  3. Forgotten Women is an organization that women run for women. They founded the organization after witnessing the abuse of vulnerable women around the world. Forgotten Women developed the LIFT Model which stands for “Leveraging Investment for Transformation.” Through this model, it provides the means for women to be permanently self-sufficient and provides emergency aid to women in vulnerable positions. Forgotten Women has a sexual trauma clinic that currently reaches an average of 105,000 women per year; it continues to advocate for equality, defending women who stand for this value. Forgotten Women is a group of women advancing equal rights for women by imparting unconditional aid to vulnerable women and supplying them with the means to be self-sustained providers.
  4. Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin founded Pearls Africa. Abisoye lost her mom when she was 4 years old, and at a young age, she learned about computers through a family friend’s support. Her tech skillset enabled her to intern with EDP Audit & Security Associates, an IT auditing firm in Lagos, Nigeria. She noticed the underrepresentation of women within the industry of tech and determined to change this disparity. In an interview with Unearth Women, she said, “In Nigeria, there are very few girls in STEM fields, as they have been made to believe that tech is not something that they can pursue due to their sex or gender. This is a lie, and it’s something we’re trying to change systematically through the GirlsCoding initiative.” One of the successes of GirlsCoding took place in the impoverished Makoko slum in Lagos. After the young women left GirlsCoding, they became leaders in their communities. Then, they started Makoko Fresh, an e-commerce platform that supports and improves the livelihoods of local fishermen. GirlsCoding is just a part of the work that occurs through the organization Pearls Africa. Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin is a woman whose intellectual leadership advances equal rights for women by expelling doubts and stigmas about female capabilities and equipping girls with the resources to pursue a meaningful career.
  5. Sonita Alizadeh is a champion and advocates on the behalf of Girls Not Brides. At the age of 16, Sonita found out that her parents were going to sell her into marriage. Despite her family’s disapproval, she recorded music about her experiences as a woman and a refugee. Sonita released her song­, “Daughters for Sale” on YouTube. The video went viral, and her parents decided not to sell her into marriage. Sonita Alizadeh now lives in the United States and continues to fight on behalf of child brides. She works as an advocate with Girls Not Brides and speaks with global authorities on the issue. The organization urges countries to develop laws, policies and programs that end child marriage; Sonita Alizadeh is a woman whose creative leadership advances equal rights for women, specifically young girls, who would otherwise be sold into marriage before maturity.

The leadership of these women advances equal rights for women across the world. Their personal experiences and courage, often in the face of insurmountable odds, led them to activism on behalf of vulnerable or oppressed women. The example that they set serves as an inspiration to all people that each person’s voice has value, meaning and power. The impact of each organization demonstrates the importance of advocacy and activism.

Hannah Brock
Photo: Flickr

Gender inequality in Nigeria'sEvery day the world becomes more dependant on computers. In the modern era, impoverished communities often lack access to technology. Therefore, technology is inaccessible in many developing countries. However, Nigeria finds itself in a unique position; the country’s ICT (information and communication technologies) sector has grown significantly since the early 2000s. In fact, Nigeria hosts “Africa’s biggest technology market and accounts for 23% of internet users in Africa with 122 million people online in December 2018.” Unfortunately, there is gender inequality in Nigeria’s tech industry and in many other countries around the globe.

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin 

Nigeria’s technology industry has brought much wealth to the country. But, it is important to consider the demographics of this innovative sector. According to the Women’s Technology Empowerment Center, Nigeria has a sizable gender gap. The technology sector, in particular, does not employ many women. “According to the National Bureau of Statistics, women make up on average just 22% of the total number of engineering and technology university graduates each year.” Similarly, a fifth of the people working in the information and technology sector are women. Thankfully, some women, including Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, have taken it upon themselves to solve gender inequality in Nigeria’s tech industry.

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin leads the fight to close the gender gap in Nigeria’s technology sector. Ajayi-Akinfolarin was born in Akure, Nigeria. She attended the Nigerian School of Information Technology and the University of Lagos, where she received her BSc in Business administration. Ajayi-Akinfolarin began her professional career as an intern for E.D.P. Audit and Security Associates where she eventually became an associate consultant. During her time there, Ajayi-Akinfolarin became aware of the huge gender gap in the information and technology sector; thus, Ajayi-Akinfolarin refocused her career.

Pearls Africa

In 2012, Ajayi-Akinfolarin founded Pearls Africa, an NGO that provides young women with the resources to pursue a career in STEM. For Ajayi-Akinfolarin, taking this step meant leaving a comfortable career. However, she believes fighting for her community is more important; “We want girls to be creators of tech, not mere users. Watching them write code is beautiful. Many of them never touched a computer before they got here. It’s mind-blowing. The joy on their faces, that’s more than money.”

While Pearls Africa is intended for women pursuing STEM, their overarching goal is to improve lives by reducing poverty. Along with teaching STEM, Pearls Africa teaches women about “ethics, leadership skills, self-empowerment/development, confidence, public speaking, and self-esteem, which leads to economic independence.”

Pearls Africa deserves praise not for their goals, mission or philosophy, but for their achievements. Since 2012, “the organization has trained over 400 young women to code.” They offer eight additional programs that offer different services as well. Some of these programs focus on women’s empowerment, developing leadership skills in young women. Meanwhile, other programs offer aid. For example, Pearls Africa’s medical outreach program provides free health care assistance in Lagos, Nigeria.

Recognition

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin recognizes that technology is here to stay. Her foundation’s work to empower young women with tech access and skills is beyond remarkable. Unsurprisingly, Ajayi-Akinfolarin has received multiple awards in recognition of her work. In 2018, she was recognized as Woman of the Year by the ONE Campaign, and “she was named one of the 10 CNN Heroes of The Year.”  Organizations like Ajayi-Akinfolarin’s must be supported in their fight to bring opportunities to impoverished communities. Hopefully, Ajayi-Akinfolarin will continue to have success and inspire women to fight gender inequality in Nigeria’s tech industry as well as the global industry.

Ana Paola Asturias
Photo: Flickr