A social educator and gender advocate, Roseline Adewuyi, tells kehinde ajose about her career, women’s empowerment and other topics
Count us about your work?
I am a social educator, gender advocate and blogger. I am also a feminist, with a particular interest in breaking through the glass ceilings of cultural and traditional stereotypes that limit the female gender. You could say that it is this same impulse that inspired me to become a blogger, shedding light on issues related to the rights of women and girls.
What are your educational qualifications?
I studied French at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State. I also have a master’s degree from the University of Ibadan, Oyo State. I am studying French Literature, specializing in Feminist Theory at Purdue University, United States of America.
What led you to advocate for gender and girls’ development?
I grew up with a nurtured curiosity. As a child, I was often bothered by the different treatments boys received compared to girls. This became a passion when I discovered that the difference in treatment meant that women were considered inferior to men. It was that passion that motivated my commitment to advocating for gender and girls’ development. That commitment has paid off with significant impacts and positive change.
What is your assessment of the inclusion of women in government and girls’ education in Nigeria?
Last time I checked, women made up about 49.2 percent of Nigeria’s population, yet the 109-member National Assembly Senate consists of just seven women.
Of some 20 million children out of school in Nigeria, girls make up 60 percent; and this is correlated with other vices such as the marriage of girls. About 87 percent of married adolescent girls are out-of-school girls.
A candid assessment of the situation shows that some progress has been made in the areas of including women in government and girls’ education. However, we still have a long way to go on both counts.
What are some of the hard lessons you have learned on your journey?
In my journey, I have learned that you have to start where you are to make real change. I have learned that every step matters on the journey of a thousand miles, and one step in the wrong direction can change one’s destiny. This is what motivates me towards excellence. I have also learned that progress rarely happens quickly. However, the small impact one makes will, one day, add up to become the result one desires.
What do you consider to have been the highlight of your career?
My greatest professional achievement was my employment with the African Union as a French translator and interpreter. It was quite rewarding as it was one of the best jobs in the diplomatic sector. This was despite the fact that many people thought my course choice (French) had limited job opportunities.
How was your experience working with the African Union?
Working at the AU gave me the opportunity to work in an organization that values gender equality values so highly. I had male colleagues who put humanity and competence above gender, and who acted as my allies and support system during my time there. It provided me with a good working environment where I could easily combine my passion for gender advocacy with my work as a translator and interpreter, because one of the main issues of concern for the African Union was gender equality education. The ideas on display there mattered to me, and it was more like a family than a workplace. My senior colleagues advised me and my junior colleagues supported me. For me, it was another house.
What common mistakes do women make when it comes to pursuing their passion?
I think women underestimate the power of emotions in pursuing their passions. Patriarchal societies force women to be logical, since that is the standard of masculinity. Any woman who accepts this standard could find herself out of her shell. In the course of my gender advocacy journey, I realized that emotions also get things done; and everyone must learn to find a balance between reason and emotions. Women who can do this will do more because it allows them to be themselves and gives them the freedom to be free from the blackmail of women who are seen as too emotional to lead.
How has your experience working in the literary sector been?
Literature is the home of creativity and diversity. He exposed me to the fact that gender advocacy and feminism can go a long way when literature is used as a vehicle to promote those ideas. It also exposed me to many other world cultures, as well as their historical and cultural dynamics. The strategy of using literature to promote gender equality has been revealed as a very viable tool for people to unlearn gender stereotypes. We’ve seen this work in literary programs and academic seminars my platform hosts, and most young women are easily absorbed in the fiction books we distribute. I have been able to contribute many scholarly publications to the field of literature because of this intersection between literature and gender advocacy. Using my knowledge of literature to review the impacts of cultures and traditions from a gender perspective has made literature political for me.
What are the challenges you face in the course of doing your job?
I set out to become a gender advocate to address some of the challenges that social traditions have brought us, especially through the ignorant indulgence of our parents. But that doesn’t mean we don’t face challenges in the course of doing what we do. The biggest challenge in gender advocacy is being misconstrued and misconstrued. This is mainly because many people assume that those of us who oppose traditional gender inequalities are feminists who want to put men before women. This is despite the fact that we make it clear that we stand for gender equality; not female superiority. Financing can also be a challenge at times.
You have won several awards. Tell us about them?
In 2021, I received the Bernice Caroll Award for Feminism, Peace, and Social Justice at Purdue University’s Women, Gender, and Sexuality Program, which is the highest honor in the area of gender advocacy and research.
In March 2022, I won the Purdue University Office of the Chancellor Student of the Year Award. In addition to being a full-time student, I am a graduate student supervising multiple students.
In April 2022, Purdue Graduate School presented me with an award: the Boiler Change Maker Award for the impact on my students. It is an award given to “individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to contribute to the success of the university, its people, or its programs.” I was also awarded an Award for Excellence in Teaching from the School of Languages and Culture in the same month.
In December 2022, the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Excellence in Leadership presented me with the 2022 Leadership in Action Award.
How important is personal development to achieve success?
I believe that personal development, growth and self-improvement are the main components of a successful life. But because these things are hard to measure, many people barely pay attention to them. However, we can set out to measure them by asking ourselves how much new knowledge we want to acquire and how many new skills we want to obtain in a specific period of time. The more valuable potential you add to yourself, the more you will be needed; And what is success if not a life of impact and adding value to others? This is the only way to stop dreaming and start doing while enjoying the process itself.
What do you think about child marriage?
Many people excuse child marriage as a cultural and/or religious practice that is done to protect girls from promiscuity. But, the question we always have to ask ourselves is what about the male child? I believe that the most effective way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy in the girl is to give her a comprehensive sexual education; not subject them to child marriage. It is a violation of the child’s human rights because he is prevented from giving his best in her studies or career. This dastardly act fosters poverty as well. Child marriage denies the child the opportunity to develop her full potential before having to face the responsibilities of motherhood. puberty is not matureY.
Do you think technology encourages violence against girls?
Given that many young women have been economically and socially empowered by the content and innovations they have used to impact other women through the Internet, I don’t think we can say that technology promotes violence against women. As a digital feminist activist using social media to achieve measurable social change, I have learned that machines learn from us. It is what we use technology for that defines whether it will promote violence or end violence. It is our responsibility to regulate how we will use the Internet, social media, smartphones, and other forms of technology for our own social benefit.
How important is the empowerment of girls in national development?
The progress of any society is measured by the productivity of the individuals that compose it. Girl empowerment empowers half the population to be productive to their fullest potential. That means that the productivity of any society in which the girl is empowered will automatically be double the productivity of the society in which the girl is not empowered. For Nigeria’s development, reports indicate that girls with eight years of education are four times less likely to be married as children; and with nine years of education, they can earn 20 percent more as adults.
What is your driving force?
My driving force is the women and girls who have been influenced and impacted by the work I do. Despite all the challenges, it is your empowerment that keeps me going. It motivates me to see women with equal opportunities to compete and participate in the economic life of society. The knowledge that a woman has more control over her life and has more access to her social needs is the push she needed to want to do more. When I see women turn away from spousal violence, oppose child marriage, or fight for the girl to have an education, it inspires me.
How you relax?
I relax with food, parties, and attending other social gatherings. I also take time to rest. I am a fan of sumptuous parties. Delicious meals refresh me and energize me for the next task ahead. I love watching movies too. However, academic life as a student has made him somewhat elusive these days. The rest of my weekends and vacations are spent chatting on social media or checking social media for news and updates.