6 November 2011
“The number of dreams that fear has stolen can be used to pay off world debt.”
Selected as a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, and recipient of the Women’s Advocacy Award from the West African Leadership Organization for her exemplary leadership and dedication to the socio economic development in West Africa, we touch base with author and entrepreneur Ifedayo Durosinmi – Etti at the 2018 One Young World Summit in Hague.
She shares her journey, tips for success to other young leaders and more about her work that has reached over 20,000 women, promoted over 2,000 and directly impact the lives of over 100 women so far in 2018.
Sherah Beckley Editor, Thomson Reuters Sustainability.
Sherah Beckley: Could you tell us a bit about your journey and the book you are about to launch in London?
Ifedayo Durosinmi – Etti: My journey started over 10 years ago working in the fashion, marketing and manufacturing Industries. In 2012, I moved back to Nigeria, where I joined Nigerian Breweries (Heineken Operating Company in Nigeria) as a Young African Talent (YAT) and transitioned to their Corporate Communications Department as Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Support Manager where I managed various corporate social responsibility and sustainability projects.
Prior to moving back I worked with Arcadia Group Plc, a British multinational retailing company headquartered in London and Aspire Acquisitions.
With my passion for women and children, I launched Parliamo Bambini and Philos and Zoe, startups disrupting the baby and child industry through locally manufactured furniture and clothing for children in 2015.
I am also very passionate about promoting entrepreneurship, gender equality and youth empowerment because I believe they contribute to sustainable development, so I launched a platform called the AGS Tribe to democratize opportunities for entrepreneurs across Africa and the AGS Enterprise Challenge, to empower female entrepreneurs through funding, mentorship and training.
Since the launch of Parliamo Bambini in 2015, we have received several awards across West Africa. I have also received awards for my contribution to the empowerment of women in Africa. I wrote my book, Accessing Grants for startups to help entrepreneur’s access grants and other opportunities that can help take their personal or business brands to the next level. I launched it in Nigeria in July. I have also done a book tour in Botswana and I intend to take it to other countries in Africa in 2019. My last book tour in 2018 will be in London on the 8th of November.
Sherah: Why is empowering women as leaders crucial to achieving sustainable development?
Ifedayo: Over the years, women and girls have been marginalized and they’ve been made to believe that they only have the capacity to feed their direct families instead of nations. This has caused women and girls to be the majority of people living in poverty and experience multidimensional inequalities. Women’s empowerment means women gaining more power and control over their own lives so that responsibilities and opportunities of individuals will not depend on whether they are born male or female.
When a woman is empowered, she has control over her own life and has the ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, both nationally and internationally.
For example, when a woman has access to quality education, infant and child mortality rates fall and family health improves. Education also increases women’s participation in the labour force and their contributions to household and national income. Women’s increased earning capacity, in turn, has a positive effect on children’s nutrition, health and educational prospects. This all has a ripple effect on the countries economy and sustainable development.
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. For sustainable development to be achieved, we need to have economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection and womens empowerment, and gender equality is at the core of social inclusion. The voices and perspectives of women and girls must be included in policy development, implementation and monitoring on all issues.
This will have a flow on effect to children – as their well-being is always intrinsically connected to the well-being of women.
No country can progress if it isolates 50% of its population and sustainable development is impossible when half of the population is marginalized therefore, sustainable development cannot be achieved without women.
Sherah: How can men in particular lead on the empowerment of women as leaders?
Ifedayo: For men to be able to support and be a voice for the empowerment of women, they will first need to understand that it is not a competition or a quest for domination but the complementarity of both genders.
Reality is all about relational dynamics, the beauty of life is in the interactions between element which means that men and women must understand how both roles are indispensable and deserve to be respected and honored.
This is the first step to men leading or supporting womens empowerment.
As a people, we need to understand and respect humanity, our unique roles in life and honoring the time and effort of each persons activities, to ensure access to opportunities for all. We also need to understand that it is about collaboration and interdependence, not domination. When that shift in framework occurs, then automatically, we embody the kind of relationship dynamics that reflects that belief which will uplift everyone by its very nature.
Sherah: Coming out of One Young World 2018 at the Hague, and as one of the Team Akon delegates, what is your message to other young leaders and future leaders across Africa?
As a One Young World Ambassador, I now, more than ever understand that I have a responsibility to my country and continent. It is so important to be a good role model and whenever one person has the opportunity to go out and see how things are done, it is important to pass on that information to others.
My message to other young leaders is that they should show up, be responsible and be ready to serve.
People are watching you and even with all the eyes, it is okay to fail, what is most important, is to have the courage to get up when you do. There are so many opportunities for young leaders in Africa, take advantage of them and do not let fear stop you.
The number of dreams that fear has stolen can be used to pay off world debt.
Being selected as one of the delegates for Team Akon for the work I do to promote entrepreneurship in Africa was absolutely thrilling. I look forward to a year long mentorship and a lifelong relationship with him and his team.
Sherah: What gives you hope?
Ifedayo: My children give me hope, in a very practical way. The fact that God gave them to me to nature, protect and care for them, I am assured that I cannot not fail.