Solace Ojotule is a Mastercard Scholar at the University of Edinburgh, a content writer, storyteller, and podcaster. She prides herself in creating the right words that connects audiences to one’s business.
An ardent advocate of the Sustainable Development Goal 5- Gender Equality, Ojotule founded She Rise Africa, a non-profit organization aimed at enhancing gender equality in Africa.
In this chat with SNTK, Ojotule shares her gender equality story.
What does gender equality mean to you?
Gender equality to me means equal opportunity for all genders. Gender equality to me means ‘discrimination free’. These two words sum up what gender equality means to me. A world where no one will have to have certain privileges while the other will have to be denied certain privileges just because of their gender will be a gender-equal world for me.
Could you please share what inspired you to be an advocate of gender equality?
I became a gender advocate because of my personal experience with female prejudice. I grew up in a family with no male child. And because of this, myself, mother and my sisters suffered different types of maltreatment after my father’s demise on the basis that my mom had no son. My fathers’ properties were seized from my mother; some were sold because they claimed only a boy child can inherit a father’s property. This means female children are not regarded as children.
I and my siblings had to be raised in the harshest condition ever to make ends meet. We underwent child labour, hawking, and all to raise funds to feed and live. All these happened to me because I was born a girl. It means my situation would have been different if I was a boy. I would have been treated differently. Nobody deserves to be treated as a secondary being because of their gender. This experience has shaped who I am, shaped my values, and my motivation to continue to raise my voice to create that awareness on the need to see all genders as a priority.
In what ways do you contribute to the achievement of gender equality?
I contribute to gender equality by speaking up. I use my voice to speak up against all types of discrimination women and girls are being faced with. I do this through an organization that I founded, She Rise Africa. Through the initiative, I and my teammates create awareness, spotlight the disadvantages women and girls are being faced with while working to mitigate these disadvantages. Aside from She Rise Africa, I use my social media platforms to create awareness. I use every opportunity I get around people to create that awareness. I let people know what I stand for and what I believe in, EQUALITY.
Some people believe gender equality is not achievable especially in Nigeria. What is your take on it?
Achieving gender equality is a gradual process and it is very possible to achieve gender equality in Nigeria. Looking back to years ago, there was a time when female children were not allowed in school at all. There was a time when women couldn’t even have their business or be in politics. But today, there is a gradual change. To some extent, we have more girls enrolled in school than in the last 20 years. This is progress. We may not be where we want, but each day, one progress is being achieved in one corner. This is an achievement. Patriarchal embedded cultures will not miraculously change in a day, but with constant push, with constant activism and advocacy, gender equality will be achieved in Nigeria. Gender equality is possible in Nigeria.
What do you consider as the challenges facing gender equality and the best way to solve them?
The main challenge to achieving gender equality I will say is the reason we are advocating for gender equality. The reason boils down to patriarchal norms that are embedded in society. Many people still think gender equality is a fight against men or that it is being championed by bitter women. The only thing that births this type of narrative is still patriarchy. The best way to solve this is still constant sensitization and advocacy. We sensitize people in our society to understand the need for gender equality while we keep advocating for gender-responsive policies in our society that will protect women and girls and create more opportunities for them to realise their potential. ‘Leave no one behind’.