‘ We need to start encouraging women to speak out ‘
In 2017, Funto was listed among the Ynaija and Leading Ladies Africa 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria. She is the Lead Creative Designer at Five28 Interiors, an interior design and decoration outfit providing beautiful and luxury interiors for both residential and commercial spaces.
Funto is passionate about nation-building and helping women live up to their full potential. She strongly believes that the empowered woman is one of the greatest assets of a thriving society/nation. She convenes the Becoming Conference, which holds today. It is a yearly convocation of young women between the ages of 18 and 35 with the sole aim of raising inspired women, who will live up to their full potential and contribute their quota to transforming their societies, and the world at large, as they listen to and learn from the true stories of older women, who have attained certain levels of success and significance in their respective fields.
She is blissfully married to Akinade Ibuoye, a fast- rising Afro-fusion artiste popularly known as Gaise and they are blessed with two sons. She spoke to IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA on her goals to inspire women to fulfill their greatness.
What is the concept behind the Becoming Conference?
The idea of the Becoming Conference is to get older women, who have ‘become’, women who have attained certain levels of success and significance in their various fields to share their real, unscripted, behind-the-scene stories to inspire younger women.
It is to encourage younger women to live up to their full potentials, regardless of their past or current circumstances.
As the younger women listen to the becoming stories of these older women, they will be inspired and empowered to also become all they were created to be.
The concept is majorly based on Titus 2:4, where older women are admonished to teach the younger women.
I realised that in our times, the older women are busy and focused on living their own lives and pursuing their own visions. Only a few take a little time to teach and mentor young women.
We need more women to share their true success stories: the good, the bad and the ugly, so that the younger women will know and be inspired, hence-Becoming.
We will not stop becoming, whether old or young; we’ll never get to that place where we can say we have ‘fully’ become. There is always more.
How long have you held this conference and what has the influence been so far on women?
This is the fourth edition of Becoming Conference. It has been holding yearly since 2015.
The results have been quite impressive. We have received several testimonials of transformation from women, who have attended and have indeed, gone ahead to live up to their full potentials. Women who are transforming their societies.
What should women expect in this year’s edition?
This year’s conference is power- packed. Aside the amazing speakers, including Iretiola Doyle, Toyin Poju-Oyemade and Motunrayo Adefamoti, who will share their ‘becoming’ stories.
We will have, for the very first time, a ‘Heart2Heart’ session, where women, who have been through pain and loss in certain areas, and have overcome, would share their stories with the aim of equipping women going through similar situations with wisdom and strength to carry on.
It will also fasten their healing process.
As women, we go through a lot and we live in a society that doesn’t encourage speaking up or speaking out, about certain issues.
That has got to end. We need to start encouraging people, especially women, to speak out rather than bottling and covering things up.
A wise woman once said: ‘Things that are covered don’t heal well.’
How true! When we cover things up, we don’t allow for true healing.
So the Heart2Heart session is one major feature to look forward to, alongside others such as the mini-fashion show, showcasing designs from an upcoming fashion designer and live worship session by our amazing team.
As a purpose-driven, faith- based organisation, how will you assess its growth and achievements so far?
I would say that for an organisation that officially started in 2015, we have experienced tremendous growth in terms of impact.
We have reached over 12,000 women via our online platforms and over 1,500 women through our events.
The testimonies and feedbacks we receive from these women, are proofs that we are doing something right.
From your view, what are some of the challenges women face?
The list of challenges women face is endless.
One major challenge I’d like to highlight is the challenge of settling, especially for married women.
Many women get married and after having children, begin to settle into the routine of life.
They bury their dreams and visions, using their children as excuses for not pursuing them.
Yes it’s alright to be a stay-at- home mother and focus on raising your children, but it’s not right for you not to fulfill your purpose and contribute your quota to making your family, society and nation better.
Women need to stop using their children as excuses for not living in the fullness of life they were created for.
That is one of the major challenges women face and that’s the one I am most passionate about.
One of the topics for discussion is ‘Young women in politics’, why is that important?
One day, I was thinking about the state of the nation and looking at some of the presidential prospects for the coming elections.
I remembered that I had a class mate back in school, who was so keen about politics and used to say that she was going to be the first female president of Nigeria.
Several years after school, I’ve not heard anything about her and her political aspirations.
I felt a little sad and I decided to find out from Google young women in politics in Nigeria and I could barely find any.
That was when it occurred to me that there’s a need for young women to be involved in politics.
There’s a huge gender gap in politics.
We see many men, both old and young, a few older women and very few young women.
I believe that there are competent young women interested in politics but they either do not know how to get involved or how to juggle politics with every other aspect of their life.
That’s what the panel session at this year’s conference will address.
Tell us about your growing up and how it has shaped and influenced your passion for women
I was born out of wedlock. My mother and father, both married separate persons.
I come from a family of steps:- step mother, step father, stepbrothers and stepsister. I grew up with my paternal grandparents.
At some point while growing up, I was bitter at my father for not marrying my mother.
Luckily, I found Jesus early and He healed my heart of bitterness and filled it with so much love for my father.
Just when I was getting so close to my father and really loving him, he died. That was a major low point in my life.
I was angry, but I came round later and resolved to live my very best life, right at the centre of God’s will and purpose for me, regardless of what I was passing through.
It breaks my heart when I see young women living like mediocres.
There’s so much more that God has created us for than just going to school, getting married and having children.
We can do more because we were created for more, regardless of our backgrounds; regardless of the circumstances of our births; regardless of the peculiarities of our families; regardless of the hurt and pain we’ve been through. We were created for more.
As a young mother of two, interior decorator, speaker social media influencer, how do you juggle these caps?
I get this question a lot and to be honest, I really don’t know how I juggle it all.
It’s just been God’s grace. But two major things that have really helped are- one, understanding that life is in seasons and the more I understand and embrace whatever season I find myself in per time, the easier it is for me.
For instance, when I had my babies, the period right after delivery was a low output season for me, which meant that I couldn’t do as much during that season as I had to totally focus on nursing them.
I turned down some invitations to speak as well as some interior design projects because I would have overstretched myself, taking them at that season and wouldn’t give my best. The second is having a good support system.
I don’t think I’d be able to do half as much as I do without a domestic help and a driver.
Having a domestic staff helps me to rest and focus on spending more time with my husband and children when I’m at home and a driver for me isn’t a luxury because my car is practically my office.
I can get some work done, respond to emails while I’m being driven.
My mother is also a great support as I often take the boys to her place, especially on weekends when I have engagements.
So that’s majorly it- God’s grace, understanding my seasons and a good support system.
What advice will you give to a young woman?
My all-time advice to any young woman is not to settle for less.
Whatever it is, whether in career, business or marriage, don’t settle for less than the best, because you deserve the very best and that means you have to keep working hard to get the best and preserve it.
What keeps you going?
Not trying to sound spiritual here, but the truth is Jesus keeps me going.
I do not understand how people go through this life without Jesus.
Jesus keeps me sane in this very insane world and that keeps me going.
How do you relax?
I’ve come to discover that reading helps me relax.
What I do most in a low output season is to read.
The moment I realise I’ve not read a book in a while, then I know I need to slow down a little and rest.
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