‘Empowering women remain critical to social development’
Executive Director, United Way Greater Nigeria (UWGN), Deola Durodola, has said that empowering women remains essential to the health and social development of families, communities and the country at large.
Durodola said the body has continuously prioritised girls and women at its programmes.
She spoke during the recent visit of the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of United Way Worldwide, Angela Williams, to Nigeria.
Speaking at the Chapel Hill Denham, Ikoyi, Lagos, Durodola said the society must be intentional in constantly training communities and strengthening structures to ensure that girls and women live in communities where they feel safe and protected.
“Women’s ability to live safe and healthy lives free from all forms of abuse, either physical, sexual or psychological has also been a focus point for UWGN,” she noted.
She said that UWGN in the last five years has helped girls and women access healthcare through its various health initiatives, including menstrual hygiene and wash products, adding that they make up about 60 per cent of its beneficiaries.
“Women also enjoy access to food supplies to support their children and families especially during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic. We distributed 200,000kgs of family food packs weighing 20 kilos each donated to 10,000 vulnerable households
“Young women who are business owners and early career employees are also not left behind. We have been training over 500 women on power skills for the 21st century work and business space thereby ensuring that they thrive in their businesses and careers and continue to increase their earning power,” she added.
On her part, Williams said African girls and others have much more to gain by being themselves.
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way and what I tell young people everywhere who might find themselves feeling different than the majority of others around them is that there is true power that lies in being yourself.
“Showing up as you are with your full, authentic self on display may sound simple in theory, but it’s radical in practice. I know how scary it can be, but trust me, when I tell you that it is vitally important to be your authentic self, not just for you, but for the whole world too. It is the only way we’ll push real progress forward, breaking barriers for yourself and for others around you.
“I know that it can be tempting particularly in the business world to gloss over your differences, hide what makes you unique and fall in line to fit into a mould of others’ expectations. But it is imperative that we do not do that. The world needs each and every one of us, just as we are.”
On breaking barriers to rise to the top as a woman, she said: “It’s an honour to be the first Black woman to lead United Way, but being the first is a feeling I know all too well. As a black woman, I have been the first and only in so many instances throughout my career.
“Fighting for the health, economic well-being and education for everyone takes all of us, which is why partnerships are such a fundamental part of United Way’s work. I’m here in hopes of recruiting more corporate and philanthropic partners to join us in our work and see the amazing things we can make happen together.”