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There is a women’s empowerment evolution going on in the world currently, and take it or not, it is one that has come to stay. Not only has it come to stay, it keeps advancing. In addition, women are now a driving force; raising, building, and pushing fellow women to heights formerly restricted to only the male. The more interesting fact is that, Nigerian women are not left out of this evolution. Talk of Mo Abudu setting the pace in the movie industry; Tara Durotoye in the beauty industry; or even Temi Ajibewa – The Millionaire Housewife – teaching and helping several hundreds of women to attain financial freedom and yet balancing things up as wives and mothers. ABISOYE AJAYI AKINFOLARIN For Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, it is technology. The Ondo State-born hero is a Computer Programmer, Women Rights Activist, and the founder of Pearls Africa Youth Foundation, a foundation whose objective is to train young and vulnerable girls in underdeveloped communities in Nigeria, particularly in the field of technology. Born on May 29, 1985, her interest in computers was ignited at the age of 10, after she visited her brother’s friend’s business center. This interest kept budding, and she decided to intern with an IT firm after her secondary school education. Afterwards, she attended the Nigerian Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) and later, the University of Lagos, where she obtained a BSc in Business Administration. HER CAREER
Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin
Abisoye’s career kick started when she joined E.D.P Audit and Security Associates, where she worked for seven years. She built her career from the scratch – as an intern – and rose to the level of Associate Consultant. Irrespective of her growing career as an IT Consultant, Abisoye quit her job in 2012 for a call – passion for women liberation and relevance. WHY PEARLS AFRICA YOUTH FOUNDATION? In 2013, Abisoye came across a government survey which revealed that, less than 8% of Nigerian women were employed in professional, managerial or technology jobs. This further highlighted the fact that an enormous number of girls were unskilled in computer programming. Riding on the oars of this passion now stirred, she decided to close up the gender gap in technology. Hence, she began to encourage young girls to gain relevant technological skills. She chose to focus on young girls because, according to her, “gender justice is a matter of basic rights and also a key means to addressing poverty. An empowered girl will become an empowered woman; an empowered woman builds an empowered family, and an empowered family builds a powerful nation through transforming local communities and adding more to the world’s economic prosperity.” THE ‘WHAT’ Over the years, Pearls Africa Youth Foundation has developed programs and projects to train and empower girls. Girls Coding: This program is directed at young girls between the ages of 10 and 17, and living in underdeveloped communities or orphanage homes in Nigeria. Through this program, girls are trained in computer skills, robotics, and programming, using HTML, JavaScript, CSS, Pythons and Scratch. It also connects these young girls with female mentors and Tech Companies for internship, in order to reinforce their learning and broaden their horizon. The program is supported by the United States Mission in Nigeria. As the name suggests, Empowered Hands is a project that empowers less privileged girls with vocational training in bead making, fashion designing, Aso-oke weaving, Ankara Crafts, hair styling, making of wigs, which runs from July-August yearly. Other programs include Lady Labs, Safe Space, community outreach, medical outreach, Educate Her, school outreach, as well as internship placements. ACHIEVEMENTS
Some of the students at Girls Coding.
The Foundation has trained over 400 girls since its establishment. One of such girls is Sharon Okpoe, a student of the Foundation, aged 17 years old, who is also a beneficiary of Girls Coding. Sharon recently created a website called Makoko Fresh with her team, STAM. Makoko Fresh is a website where the fishermen in Makoko would be able to sell their fishes to other people living outside the community without the help of a middleman. She created the website to bridge the gap between fisherman and willing consumers. REWARD Abisoye Akinfolarin was featured as one of CNN’s top 10 heroes of the year (2018) and as the first Nigerian CNN hero. She would be given $10,000 in support of her heroic endeavors.   References: PearlsAfrica, CNN, Guardian Life

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This article was first published on 24th November 2018

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