Every hour in Nigeria, women are dying from cervical cancer
Thirteen years ago Tewa Onasanya took the bold step to start a fashion magazine to celebrate and profile the achievement of women , a medium she has also been using to create awareness for cervical cancer Hence the reason why started the EMACC project . The pharmacologist turned publisher tells us her plan to help wage war against Cervical Cancer in Nigeria and why she is passionate about the cause.
Me, Myself & My Work
I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother and a Pharmacologist turned Publisher / Entrepreneur. I am very passionate about what I do and I believe anything worth doing is worth doing very well. I have two great children (13 and 10), who I have to set great examples for about being the true and better version of yourself every day. I believe in everyone abilities and it makes me so happy when I see people succeed at what they do and being able to help people the best way I can.
Transitioning from Pharmacology to Publishing
The Transition was great from Pharmacology to Publishing. I must say it was challenging at first but after a while I got used to it, learning on the job. Luckily as you know, there are transferable skills you learn in life and as a student, which could be applied to any profession (to an extent). I have to also say that I was led by my conviction that instead of complaining about something, you do something about it and if I wanted to be good at it, I need to keep learning, take the good with the bad to make a great product.
Yes, I did start Exquisite Magazine when I was still living in England. I used to live in an area where we couldn’t readily buy a magazine that was for the Black British woman and to crown it, then, we only had two or three magazines for women of colour with majority of that two or three being just about hair and beauty. I needed a magazine for us that would also cater to our fashion, beauty and lifestyle needs and that’s how Exquisite magazine was birth. After a few years, we decided to launch in Nigeria and we were well received. There weren’t that many fashion magazines when we started, so the land was still (and still is ) virgin.
I believe we are in a league of our own with our own vision and mission. We are different because before anything else, we are a fashion magazine, then beauty and Lifestyle. We thrive on being able to empower, inspire and motivate people with the information required to get them excited about themselves. We also use our platform to create awareness for a form of cancer that is 100% preventable and a lot of women are dying from (cervical cancer). The ELOY awards which is our biggest baby at Exquisite magazine. After a few years of being in Nigeria, I noticed that almost all the awards ceremonies that were held were to honour men and maybe, maybe one or two females. We wanted to change that, as there are so many women doing exceptionally well in different fields and are not being recognised. These women need to be honoured, recognised and celebrated, so other women especially the younger ones would be encouraged to be the best at anything they want to do even if its male dominated. With the vision and mission of exquisite magazine being to celebrate, inspire, motivate and empower women, we started an event which brings women together to network and communicate. In 2009, we started the only female awards in Nigeria called the ELOY awards. ELOY is acronym for EXQUISITE LADIES OF THE YEAR, which uses its platform to celebrate women of excellence in different fields to inspire and motivate other women.
The EMACC project and its Spread
The focus of the Exquisite Magazine Annual Cervical Cancer (EMACC) project is on all things to do with cervical cancer including information about symptoms and causes of the disease, ways to prevent it and ways people and companies can support us. Every hour in Nigeria, women are dying with cervical cancer, which is preventable thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination programme. However people are still not going in for their yearly screenings. Early detection is also key in increasing survival rates and so educating everyone on the disease, its symptoms and ways to prevent it is key. The reception has been ok but could be great. We are gradually getting there. We are on a mission to make people realise early detection is key, they need to get screened and spread the word.
Not all cancers are pink!
To an extent, we are attaining our goals, but not attaining it enough. We want to be able to screen thousands of women monthly and vaccinate children so that deaths associated with cervical cancer can be minimised but we are still trying to get there.
We have already expanded into different states. Aside from Lagos, we have been to cities in Abuja for free screening session and to villages in Rivers state. More states are currently being explored as well.
Reason for Focusing On Cervical Cancer
Our focus on cancer especially cervical cancer is a little personal. Too many women have died from a form of cancer that is preventable and for me that is totally unacceptable. Women are the solid foundation of any society, if we keep losing our women what going to be left of us? You hear of different illness that just happen to people in the cause of their lifetime and we hear of preventative medicine for some of these illnesses. I think it is wise to prevent cervical cancer than to have to treat full blown cancer and eventually die from it. Cancer is real, yes it can be beaten but we need to be wise. One death every hour from a preventable cancer is not acceptable.
Balancing it all
God. God is the one helping me day in day out as I even don’t know how I do it. I know what my responsibilities are and I work to make sure one doesn’t suffer for the other. I’m still work in progress though.
My Drive and Passion Won’t Let Me Give Up
As a publisher, the challenges come in different packages. Lol. There is the need for great editorial staff, the need to be able to share your vision with people who are passionate enough about that vision to go on the mission to fulfilling it with you. There is the economic challenge as well but with the different challenges, we are able to raise above them and still churn out great magazine with great content every issue and great events.
What inspired me not to give up is the drive and passion that I have for my work. I love what I do and every day, I believe I can be better at it to bring out the best in me. Plus I love it when people give us the compliments and constructive criticism. It drives me to be better.
Women, Believe in Yourself
My advice would be to believe in yourself. Don’t mind the naySayers or what the statistics say, if you can visualise your vision and are prepared to work on that vision, it has no choice but to be a reality. Notice I said believe and work. It’s not enough to believe alone, you must put in the required work to achieve anything.
Celebrating Other People’s Success Makes Me a Woman of Rubies
I am a woman who has grown into herself, who believes in herself and knows her worth. I am an exquisite woman of rubies who doesn’t let life happen to her but is a go-getter and takes life on with the mind set of being able to do anything I set my mind to. I am beautiful on the inside and outside and I desire that all women and men are a success. I celebrate another person’s success because I believe life is not a competition. I am not afraid to ask for help when I need it.