‘Women should defend themselves against any form of violence’
Foluke Ademokun is a seasoned career woman, development specialist and certified trainer. She came to Ajoke Ayisat Afolabi Foundation (AAAF) with over two decades experience in applied research. Her pedigree in capacity building, stakeholder engagement processes, monitoring and evaluation speaks volume. Her social impact and sustainable livelihood assessments stem from her extensive involvement in various development programmes across Africa. Currently, she is the Executive Coordinator of AAAF. She recently spoke with CLEOPATRA EKI about her passion for guiding, mentoring and catering for women to enable them chart successful life paths, which is the foundation’s goal.
What does AAAF seek to achieve?
AAAF is an acronym for Ajoke Ayisat Afolabi Foundation, a non-governmental organisation and brainchild of the late Alhaja Ayisat Afolabi, an industrialist and philanthropist with the purpose of empowering the poor and less privileged in her community. After her demise, her son, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Group Executive Vice Chairman of Siffax Group and his siblings continued the legacy of life-long commitment to moving people out of poverty through viable and sustainable opportunities.
The Foundation was established in 2008 with a two-fold vision of providing assistance to the under privileged in humanitarian situations and for development purposes. It also aims at assisting widows, orphans, persons living with disability (PLWD) and other vulnerable persons, as well as, provides support for the blind and such other groups.
With the incessant cases of violence in the society, what should women do?
As a result of the alarming rate of different forms of violence in the society, I would advise that women guard themselves against any form of violence, ranging from domestic to emotional, physical and mental. Since women and children are vulnerable, they should not keep quiet, when faced with violence or abuse. They should rather report such immediately to appropriate quarters, which include families, government agencies, Police, NGOs, as well as, religious organisations for necessary actions. Women should speak out, be confident and protect themselves against human rights violation.
What is your view on government’s efforts at empowering women?
I commend the Federal, state and local governments for providing several programmes for the wellbeing of the citizens. I think corporate organisations, through their corporate social responsibilities, should put more efforts into assisting women, especially widows and vulnerable children to avoid breeding miscreants in the society. I would also like to advocate that women promote healthy competition and support themselves. They should not measure their successes by others standards, because women are contributors to nation building, just like the menfolk.
Do you have specific projects for youths and women?
AAAF focuses on education and scholarship programmes, as well as, health, economic empowerment/poverty reduction, community and human capacity development. In one year alone, AAAF has given scholarships to over 500 students in 2014/2015, from nursery to tertiary level. Other areas we have been providing support include, medical screening for diabetics, hypertension and blood group. We also organise programmes for vocational skills on make up and bead making. People have been benefitting from the Foundation’s largess, and it would continue to live according to its mission statement and motto, which is: “Touching lives and changing lives.”
I urge people not to box themselves in corners by living according to societal dictates. I advise that women should believe in themselves. They should join hands with the men in contributing to society’s development. They should learn to appreciate themselves and avoid the sentiment and settlement mentality. They should invest their time, energies and skills wisely in different projects. Wherever Nigeria is going there, let there be women contributors in the different sectors. Women should venture into such businesses as piggery, fishery and poultry, among others.
Has the Foundation been engaging in any projects recently?
Yes, we shall be organising a bi-monthly forum to continue with our campaign: “Keep the Home Live” soon. This is to encourage our people that whether a person is alive or dead, his or her home should still be intact. Through it, we want to charge women to engage in one form of vocation or the other, even if their spouses are wealthy and comfortable. They should come up with creative plans and ideas to do any business they are passionate about. Today, there are women that have become widows not by choice. Death is inevitable and could come anytime, so they should be useful and productive.
To mark International Women’s Day and revive the dwindling economy, AAAF has trained some women on free Information Communication Technology skills in order to make them productive and self-reliant. The one-day free ICT training included, digital marketing, computer awareness, Microsoft, on-line transacting businesses and usage of social media, such as, Facebook, Skye, Instagram and Whatsapp, among others.
I would like to urge women to use their IT skills and be versatile and innovative. They should also network to meet their goals and dreams. ICT is knowledge based, and everybody needs to access ICT skills. People can communicate with others through the Internet.
They can also put their businesses on-line, which is a huge money-venture.
I believe that after the training and with constant practice, the trainees would be able to use the social media adequately. They were also able to observe and monitor their children’s unholy activities on the Internet.
Does AAAF partner with Individuals and other NGOs?
Yes, we have partnered with some other NGOs in the Diaspora, and with Mrs. Grace Alexander Abimbola, Chief Executive Officer, Star Children Development Initiative (SCDI), as well as, Dr.Yetunde Folajimi in the US. I encourage other women to take their positions in nation development, improve on their mind-sets and add value to the society.
Women should impart good morals, family values and proper home training to their children and wards, so that they do not become street orchids or miscreants. Women’s role has gone beyond the kitchen. Today’s woman has important roles to play in businesses, politics, management, civil service and agriculture, among other professions.
How do you unwind?
I read newspapers, both local and foreign politics. I also love watching movies, eating healthy and working out. I enjoy spending quality time with my family.
What’s your philosophy?
My philosophy is: “Live and let live, and one step at a time.” I love wearing blue, black and red dresses.
Ademokun is also the Assistant pastor, Church of God Mission, Ojodu, Lagos. She is married and blessed with children.
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