As a victim of Gender Based Violence and Sexual Abuse I struggled with low self-esteem and inner shame. I could go for an event and even-though I am well dressed I would hear inner voices telling me Toyin you do not fit in, you are ugly and would never amount to any thing. I married my husband one year after I met him and four months after the marriage and three months pregnant, he started to beat me. In a bid to avoid him I started to apply for professional development programs in my country and abroad. I got two scholarships to study abroad for an Executive Certificate and for my Masters ‘Degree. While completing my Masters’ Degree one of my class mates suggested to me that I set up a Non-Profit organization on return back to my country as she saw that I had a strong passion for the socially excluded. Reluctantly on return back to my country, my husband did not change his abusive nature so I decided to set up the Women and Girl-Child Capabilities Enhancement and Empowerment Organization a conduit pipe for my emotion (WGCCEEO-VISION To be a Pan-African Organization consistently promoting the Empowerment of Women and Adolescent Girls’ with the objective of strategically contributing to growth of the African Continent. MISSION-Promoting the empowerment of women and Girls' through programs which promotes social inclusion and stimulate social participation thereby creating avenues for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.) in line with Amartya Sen’s principle of Development as Capabilities, what I learnt during my sojourn abroad. The organization provided an avenue for me to meet and interact with diverse group of professional women as well as Women and Young Girls who were affected by the Boko-Haram insurgency crisis. I am happy to mention that less than 5 years of establishing WGCCEO I was featured on Nigeria Television Authority, Channels Television and 99.9 Kiss FM Radio Station, December 2018 I presented my Pitch on Effectively Meeting the Family Planning Needs of Displaced Persons at the Family Planning Youth Pre-Conference Abuja Nigeria, GirlsnotBrides made WGCCEO one of her partners in Nigeria as well as Sanitation and Water for All, Water and Sanitation Collaboration Council and we were selected as a member of the Technical Committee on Ending Child Marriage in Nigeria.
Little did I know that in a bid to avoid my abusive husband I was developing my skills and building my professional network, at a program on ending Child Marriage in my country I met Caroline, I told her about my writing skills and little about my problem. Then she casually said join World Pulse. I joined world pulse and gave my self a target of getting 3 medals six months after joining. Through World Pulse I realized that I could set very big goals for myself and achieve them as few months after joining I had earned 3 medals not only that I realized that I belonged to a network of people who genuinely cared about me, for instance when I post any story I am deeply encouraged by the number of people who not only comment but send me a private message to appreciate the work I am doing in my community but also ask me sincere questions which I am very grateful for. Through world pulse I am no longer ashamed of my past of being a victim of Gender Based Violence but I am now using my experience to promote Women and Girls’ empowerment as well as their Sexual and Reproductive Rights and the need for them to speak out against issues which concerns and affects them. As through my marriage experience, I understood that if a Woman is not empowered, a man looks down on her and treats her as garbage and a baby making machine impoverishing her the more.
I established the Girls’ Safe Space which surprisingly United Nations Population Fund Nigeria Country Office agreed to fund and the impact has been overwhelmingly as between July and November we have impacted the lives of 500 Girls to speak out against every force which wants to limit their capabilities. I would not relent in what I am doing, I know I have an inner power and every opportunity I have, I would continue to encourage Girls’ to believe in themselves and to own their future by pursuing an education, dream big and not waiting for any man to be their savior as marriage does not complete them. I would also continue to work with Women on recognizing Domestic Violence and how to run away from it. In my country because of traditional and religious stereotypes women are compelled to stay in their marriage forgetting the psychological effect a violent environment has on not only the Woman but also on the children.
Lastly I am so grateful to World Pulse for providing a platform to interact with Women from all over the world and for putting in me a very big dream which I am confident would manifest one day-The Choral Leadership Academy (Creche, Nursery and Primary) a school for developing the leadership capabilities of young people and also the WGCCEO shelter for victims of Gender Based Violence.