Advocacy dominates in Shulamite Ezechi’s profile. She is also an author, and activist for girls and women’s rights. Ezechi is the Founder and CEO of ANYiSO, a registered charity in the UK that runs multiple projects, seminars, workshops and conferences, and provides support and services for women, young people, refugees, and asylum seekers. Her passion for these vulnenable one is driven by inspiration and personal experiences.
She is a feminist, community leader and a mentor to many young people, men, and women. She has made impacts through her voice and served as a member of the refugee women’s strategy group. She is involved in reviewing policies affecting black and ethnic minority women and young people in Scotland, UK.
Shulamite serves in various organisations among which are the North Glasgow community food initiative, where she served as a member of the board. Shulamite is among the delegates for the First ministers National advisory committee on Women and Girls for Black and Ethnic Minority. She is a professional independent domestic abuse advocate, an ambassador for Migrant Voice, UK; a member of the United Nations Association, UK; a member of Amnesty International, and a member of Friends of the Earth Scotland.
Shulamite obtained her National Certificate of Education, NCE, from Federal College of Education Technical, Umunze, Nigeria. She is licensed to teach having gained a certificate from the Teacher’s Registration Council of Nigeria, TRCN. She obtained a diploma in Community Development from the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom. Shulamite holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, two master’s degrees; one in Clinical Nutrition and Health and the other in Policy Analysis and Global Governance both from universities in Scotland, UK.
She has won many awards including ‘the Inspiration to the BME Community award’ that was conferred to her at the Glasgow City Chambers, United Kingdom. She has been privileged to be invited to Oxford University Women leadership Symposium to deliver a talk on ‘Girl-child Marriage,’ and lead a group of women to UNESCO Spring School to tell their integration stories through drama. Shulamite’s work for humanity and in community development have been published in both national and international newspapers. Shulamite is married and blessed with children. She speaks on her works in this interview.
How is life as an advocate for women and girls?
It is inspiring, and this doesn’t come only from the work we do. It is also from the amazing and inspiring women and girls that we work with and the positive change we see in their lives.
Advocating for women and girls has given me amazing opportunities to get their voices heard and empower and instill confidence in them, especially our girls to be in the next generation of changemakers’.
What’s your experience as Ambassador for Migrant Voices, UK, like?
As an advocate for women and children and as a policy analyst, becoming a Migrant Voice, UK ambassador has helped me to gain more skills and confidence to address issues that affect us and to understand where, when and how to speak out for ourselves and to support other migrants to do so.
You have been involved in reviewing policies affecting black and ethnic minority women in Scotland. What did you discover?
There are huge debates often taking place about us, but without us. As a policy analyst and a community leader, reviewing policies that affect black and ethnic minorities has given me opportunities to be at places where discussions, debates and proposed policies about us are being held, thereby enabling me to make outstanding contributions not just as an ethnic minority myself, but with professionalism and years of experience working with black and ethnic minority women and young people.
What does working with Amnesty International mean to you?
Working with Amnesty International means a lot to me. They are at the forefront, pushing for safe ways for refugees to start a new life by reuniting families that have been separated, through community groups sponsoring refugees to move to their countries, and through universities, businesses offering people study or work visas to start a new life.
So working with them gives us the opportunity to provide adequate services, support and referrals for refugees.
What are some of the memorable experiences of working with refugees and asylum seekers?
Some of these women and young people migrate from countries that do not speak English. We enroll them for our ESOL classes (English for speakers of other languages) to learn the English language
The confidence, positive impacts after graduation such as gaining admission into colleges, providing volunteer opportunities, gaining employment; these positive transformation is such a beautiful and memorable experience for us all.
What are the challenges you encountered with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Covid-19 came unexpectedly followed by total lockdown and these weren’t funny at all, especially to asylum seekers that are not allowed to work and refugees. Most of them depend on some organisations for support.
The rate of poverty and the need for support went so high and these brought a lot of challenges.
Our organisation, ANYISO, continued providing support and increased our food supply, and between March 2020 to August 2021, our team supplied more 21,000 food packs to families and people in Glasgow and continued our weekly foodbank.
You recently organised a conference to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women. Tell us more about it
Unfortunately, Covid-19 has affected women both in frontline and at home, while exposing structural inequalities across every area, from health to the economy from security to social protection and increase in domestic abuse.
With all these happening in times of crisis, when resources are strained and institutional capacity is limited, women and girls face so many far reaching consequences.
I felt that responding to the pandemic is not just about rectifying long-standing inequalities, but also about building a resilient world in the interest of everyone with women at the centre of recovery.
So, at the conference, we discussed these issues, approaches, made suggestions, and looked for ways we could work together in tackling issues that affect us as women.
I strongly believe that this is so important because when organisations and agencies work together they tend to make huge differences in people’s lives irrespective of their ethnicities and cultural differences.
What lessons has life taught you?
To always believe in yourself and always invest in your personal growth.
What would you consider as the turning point in your career?
The turning point in my career was discovering my true potential and believing in myself despite having no knowledge or idea on how to begin.
Moved with passion to make a change and to provide support for women and young people, I started a weekly voluntary support group from my house, and here we are today.
Who or what do you consider as the greatest influence in your life?
My mother influenced me greatly. She is a very hardworking woman, financially independent, generous and always supporting and helping people. This really influenced me a lot growing up.
How would you assess the human rights community in Nigeria at the moment?
Nigeria as a nation has some constitutional rights that it guarantees its citizens, but unfortunately, these rights are often undermined by corruption, abuse of power, islamist insurgency, etc.
For Nigeria to be considered a free country, it has a long way to go, but there is a clear path to improvement, through working with NGO’s, and international communities, and continuous push for anti-corruption and institutional reforms.
What message do you have for Nigerian women today?
Start doing something no matter how small, as this could get you financial freedom and liberate you and your children from poverty.
You recently won the Prestige Award in the UK. Tell us more about it.
Prestige awards recognises businesses and organisations in the UK that have proven to be the best over the year.
ANYISO was nominated, and won ‘Charity of the Year’ award. We felt very honoured and we are very proud of the works we do, and moments like this encourage us to do more.