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My work with young women has been fantastic -Oluwatoyin Ajao

By Victor Gotevbe

‘Toyin Ajao (33) had her  first degree in Management and Accounting from Obafemi  Awolowo University, Ile- Ife, Nigeria. She was a Peace and Security (women) fellow of African Leadership Centre and King’s College London (2009/2010). ‘Toyin’s past work focused on women, gender, sexuality and social media activism. She is a two-time international award winning blogger and a co-editor at KIND ‘free2run’ women in politics blog.

Before starting a co- consulting initiative- StandTall Consulting, she has worked with change making NGOs including Baobab for Women’s Human Rights, and Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre Nigeria.  As part of the fellowship program, ‘Toyin is currently studying on the MA in Conflict, Security and Development at King’s College London. She is known for women and gender activism as well as social media activism among others. From the United Kingdom, she shares her story with Saturday Youth Vibes.

Journey into blogging?
I have Oreoluwa Somolu to thank for that. She was my inspiration and when I worked with her at Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre, I fully understood her vision of making ICT an embracing tool for all girls and women. There is no how one will not get inspired by a brilliant woman who is futurist in thinking.

Working with young women
My work with young women has been fantastic. I have been amazed as to much potential and brilliancy I have discovered among young women especially in Nigeria. Many of them just need an enabling environment and a society that believe in everyone’s potential regardless gender to develop and make outstanding contributions. Social construct and gender inequality needs to be continually challenged as that still stand as an impediment to young women’s aspirations.

Growing up
I have a lot to say about what growing up was like for me, but it will be good to summarise: I was born in Ikirun, Osun State where I had my primary and secondary school education before proceeding to Obafemi Awolowo University where I badged Bsc. Accounting. I am the last child of a big family. Growing up had its advantages and disadvantages and I still do miss my late mum and dad.

My most memorable experience
There are so many of them. Memories and imaginations are part of my persona.   May be that outstanding memorable experience will come when Nigeria is transformed and every Nigeria is genuinely proud of that country and its leadership.

Panelist at the 55th UN Commitee on the Women Status (CWS)
I was a part of the African Leadership Centre, Nairobi (an organization devoted to training critical mass of transformative Africans) as a study fellow, am now an alumna and I am back again as a fellow doing my MA at King’s College London. As part of the women fellow in 2009/2010, there eight of us from different African countries decided to apply for CWS to address the burning issue of women participation in peace processes.

We discovered that documenting the role that women play at their community level as traditional peace negotiators/makers will go a long way in addressing that vacuum of women representation at the peace table. That was our overarching concern and the reason we attended the Committee on Women Status at the UN in 2010.

Young women can be part of what I do.

Toyin in Brussels, Belguim with other leaders.

There are so many young women with vision to do something; in fact, some have already started. We just need to continually look out for each other, look out for best practices. And to always remember our role in leadership and transformation is immensely important to bring about a wonderful universe for all.

My present work.
I am currently doing my MA at King’s College in Conflict, Security and Development. At the completion of this, my commitment is to combine activism, consulting with teaching. I will be back to Africa where I believe so strongly that the necessary change we want will happen to collective effort. My effort is targeting change of mindset, rethinking and redefining leadership, culture and orientation. This will be my contribution and many young people will benefit from my wealth of knowledge and experience as I will benefit from theirs.

What I want to be remembered for at 35
I am already known for my activism and my stand on issues of leadership, women and development. I will only intensify the need for change in orientation and mindset through my work and that is all that matters.

Words of encouragement for Nigerian youth
We are all the change we need if we truly believe in ourselves. If we truly believe there is no sense in talking change when we ourselves are not transformed. We have been disappointed so many times ,and we need to buckle up in order not to repeat the same mistakes we are challenging.


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