In this revealing and engaging interview, gender advocate and language instructor-cum-researcher, Roseline Adewuyi, shares some insights into the diverse world of gender advocacy, and how she navigates the world whilst maintaining a balance between excelling in her studies and recording giant strides in her career.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Roseline Adewuyi. I am from Ogbomoso in Oyo state.
What set you apart in this world of teeming talents?
I hold First Class Honours in French language from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and a Masters of Arts degree with Distinction in French Language from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
My area of specialization as a French Literature student is Feminist Theory. This focus strengthens my academic knowledge in the field of advocacy. From 2019 to 2020, I worked as a Translator and Interpreter with the African Union.
Overall, I am a French instructor, social educator, gender advocate, and blogger on the issues of Girls and Women, especially within the African context.
We saw a video where you talked about being a digital feminist activist, can you tell us more about that?
We live in a digital world and people actively hold more conversations on several issues online. Because I believe in the didactic power of writing to effect social change, I have used my social media platforms to champion this cause. I also have a blog where I drive conversations on feminist discourse. Since this forms a huge part of my advocacy, I call myself a digital feminist activist.
Some people feel like those who are only involved in digital feminism are not doing the real work? What do you think about this?
Sadly, this conversation ensues from time to time and as a person involved in online and on-site activities, I believe both are valid, as they are creating changes in different rights.
I mean, look around you, more people are speaking up about certain issues because they trended online.
There are so many opportunities for feminists from all over the world to collaborate online and push the message forward.
I think that it takes almost an equal input of work and resources to create effective campaigns online, just as it does offline. So, we should never downplay digital feminism.
As a gender advocate and feminist, how do people see you, and how has it influenced your career decisions and impacted your career path?
A number of people are averse to what I do as they do not see it as a noble cause. Once you say, you are a feminist, a lot of people start to blame you for several societal problems without an interest in your personality.
All they see is negativity around you. I have had friends who told me to use words like gender advocate or gender activist so that people will be more receptive to my message and my person, but for me, I strongly believe it is all semantics.
So, I stick to calling myself a feminist. I am a feminist and I also see myself as an egalitarian, but because I am a woman and as we see that we live in a world that is patriarchal, we see a lot of injustice against women and I am loud about it, I am a woman and this is my reality, the reason that I understand better about them.
In all, I still consider myself an egalitarian as I will not snub an injustice to a man just because I am a woman. I am all for fairness and justice, gender regardless. I am very vocal about the need for having more causes towards men and boy child advocacy; I believe it will go a long way in having a more sustainable world.
My work as a feminist is not a gender war, but a means of expressing the need for non- marginalization of women and advocating women-inclusion in every area.
For me, it is not a fight against menfolk but one against an oppressive system, mentality and mindset. I mean, if my displeasure is directed towards the menfolk, my priorities would be misplaced because we have women who are at the forefront of this oppressive system as well, should I then hate on all human race then?
Thankfully, being a feminist has not impacted my career decisions negatively. Instead, it has made me reach for more heights because I know that there are no limits to what I can achieve. By the grace of God, I have also been privileged to work in organizations that defend and uphold gender equality. So, being a feminist in the workplace has afforded me a thrilling experience.
How did you come to take on the role of a gender advocate? When or what is that moment or act of epiphany that set you on such journey?
It started during my National Youth Service Year and that was a pivotal and transformative turn in my life.
I will say NYSC made me. It served as the bedrock of my civic engagement journey. Before I started serving, I hated the idea because I felt it was a sheer waste of time but then when I started, I knew I had to be proactive and make the most out of it. Till date, I am grateful for that phase of my life. It was a defining period in my life.
When I started service, I belonged to Sustainable development CDS group and was intrigued by the projects we implemented.
I decided to carry out a personal project, but I was not sure I wanted to do it because of my introverted nature. So, I read up on the internet if introverts can be advocates or activists for a cause. What I saw encouraged me to start out. I saw that I could champion a cause despite my introversion.
I started and did quite well despite my reservedness. A number of people who knew me were surprised to see me put myself out there.
Advocacy made me come out of my shell and also showed me that I could use my other strengths to make a difference. I love writing, and I use the engaging power of words as a great tool for advocacy.
At the end of the service year, I received an Award as a distinguished corps member in Kwara State: University of Ilorin, my Place of Primary Assignment and the Ministry of Education, Kwara State. The award recognized my contributions to Sustainable Development Goals, especially Education and Gender Equality.
Then, I knew I wanted to help young girls and women unlearn stereotypes. I realized that if I had not been actively involved in advocacy, I wouldn’t have been able to bless the lives I did. That was the defining moment for me.
What has been the hallmark of your journey as a gender advocate?
The hallmark has been the encouragement I get from people through their kind words. I also find it amusing when fathers and elder brothers tell me to mentor their daughters and younger sisters or tell me that I am a role model to them. I see it as a huge responsibility. One cannot just entrust one’s daughter or sibling into the care of another to groom. So, I see it as a huge honour and a privilege.
It is scary too, you know, because I am human and have my flaws. So, I wouldn’t want people to put me on a pedestal or have unrealistic expectations of me.
Another thing that really gets me going is seeing those young girls and women I have influenced set up their own social projects. This generates a ripple effect and makes me realize that what we are doing is effectively working and generating results. These experiences are fulfilling and show me that my advocacy is a noble cause.
What is your major drive for success?
I am a firm believer in God and I believe that God is a God of excellence. Since I am God’s child, I shouldn’t run afoul of His dictates. That is what drives me to succeed. I am also inspired by those who have gone ahead of me: my parents, my mentors, my teachers. They are the reason I know the sky is not just the limit but another starting point.
As someone combines studies with career advancement opportunities and programmes, what are your key learning points over the years?
I would say that I have come to realize that we don’t tell women’s stories enough, like other nations do. I mean, we have had great women do exceptionally in different areas of life in this country yet a good number of them go undocumented. No wonder many girls aren’t as inspired to achieve greatness as they should. Truly, representation matters. If in our curricula, we learn about women who have shattered glass ceilings, we will be motivated to do the same. But if all we’re told is reinforcing stereotypes, we will not make much progress in the society.
I mean, look at other nations of the world. Are you surprised at how many more women are founders, inventors, directors, CEOs?
It’s because from a young age, they see it in school… from stories of people past and present… how they can be these things too. I strongly believe that we should overhaul our educational system and incorporate women’s stories. They would help kids see things in another light, and grow up to create that world they and we desire.