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Closing The Gender Gap: An Interview with Dream Girl Global (DGG) Founder, Precious Oladokun

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Dream Girl Global Founder, Precious Oladokun (Image source: Dream Girl Global)

The elimination of gender inequality and achievement of the United Nations SDG 5 on gender equality remains a pressing objective as the global community barrels towards 2030. In this interview, Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online spoke with the Founder of Dream Girl Global (DGG), Precious Oladokun about DGG’s work, gender inequality, and Covid-19. Excerpts.

Alaba: Could you briefly tell us about Dream Girl Global and the gap its filing?

Precious: Dream Girl Global is a non-profit organization that was set up to contribute towards the elimination of gender inequality, and empower young women as a contribution to the 5th Sustainable Development Goal. Specifically, we carry this out through mentorship projects in a bid to empower young girls, encourage them to dream bigger, and help give them excellent head starts at their careers. We are currently in operation in Nigeria and India.

Alaba: What sparked the interest and how are you funding this initiative?

Precious: I have always had a deep rooted passion for gender inequality partly as a result of my experiences as a female in Nigeria, and partly because of the experiences of many other women across the world. Many countries that are poor today have cultural norms that exacerbate favoritism towards males. Norms such as patriarchy and concern for women’s purity help explain the male skewed ratio in India and China, and low female employment in the Middle East, and North Africa. Also, issues like uneven access to education, lack of employment equality, job segregation, and lack of political representation are major reasons behind this initiative.

So far, we have not needed much funding to carry out our projects. However, when there is a need to, we are going to reach out to individuals and organizations with similar interests to help pursue this cause.

Alaba: How does your organization measure its impact?

Precious: Basically, we measure our impact by setting short terms goals, and once a goal is achieved, we mark it out. This gives a clear picture of our activities and generally helps to measure our impact.

Alaba: Kindly share some of your challenges and successes since you launched?

Precious: One major challenge is the refusal of some people to understand the concept of gender equality, resulting in criticism of the cause. Also, the management of data and information is another challenge (yet in a good way). I would rather prefer to refer it as a learning process.

So far, I have been thrilled by the successes that we have recorded. We have been able to reach out to a large number of people through our social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. This has provided an opportunity for us to educate the masses on the importance of gender equality.

Also, we successfully mentored twenty (20) girls in Nigeria and India during our Pilot Mentorship Project that ended a month ago. In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 8% of girls finish secondary school. Imagine what could be achieved if we could start to close this gap and educate more girls.

Alaba: What do you think are the key challenges regarding gender-related issues, both in the workplace and in the home? How might they be overcome?

Precious: In my opinion, the major key challenge is that people do not understand, or more preferably, have chosen not to understand the plight of women. This is particularly prevalent in rural communities. In most societies, there is an inherent belief that men are simply better equipped to handle the best paying jobs. This inequality results in lower income for women, and is one reason why women hardly get recognized among the most financially prosperous persons in the world.

Another challenge is that many men enjoy the dividends of patriarchy, and would prefer to continue to enjoy those. These may be overcome with more sensitization, empowerment of women, and with taking a stand (among other things). By the latter, I mean that people should by their actions and words support gender equality, and call out misogynistic practices.

Alaba: As a social entrepreneur, how has the pandemic affected your work and the organization? How are you prepared post Covid-19?

Precious: Well, the pandemic has not really affected our work per se. Most of what we do involves communication via social media platforms. However, the outbreak of the virus has disrupted our plans to visit secondary schools, low income communities, and households. It is our intention to fully take up these after the pandemic, and we are working earnestly to see that it becomes a reality.

Alaba: What are your three-work-from home tips for founders who are managing a remote team now for the first time?

Precious: Tip no 1: Take full advantage of the internet. The internet is an avenue to explore various opportunities.

Tip no 2: For a founder who is managing a remote team for the first time, you will need to have dedicated, reliable, and self-driven members. You will need people who understand the cause, and are willing to go any length in ensuring that the goals of the organization are achieved.

Tips 3: My last tip is patience. This is a virtue ignored by so many people. Start building, and be dedicated while building. It takes a little patience and it takes a lot of faith but it’s worth the wait.

Alaba: As a young female leader, what drives you?

Precious: I am driven by the possibilities of results, and I am confident that whatever I put my mind to do, I can achieve it. To me, there is no impossibility.

Alaba: What message would you give to younger men and women?

Precious: My message to younger men and women is simple. Build things, watch them grow, and never rush. The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it. Another message I feel necessary is the need for younger men and women to develop and build good relationships with people. It will help one go far in life.

Alaba: How do you relax, and what is your favorite tourist destination in Africa?

Precious: I relax by watching movies, swimming, and going to nice restaurants. Regarding my favorite tourist destination in Africa, I would go with Ghana. I have been to a couple of places in Africa, but I find Ghana very interesting because of the people, the culture, and generally everything. But to be honest, there is no place like home. East or West, home is the
best- Nigeria.

Also Read Egyptian FinTech Startup NowPay Scores $2.1 million Seed Investment

P R O F I L E

Precious Oladokun is the Founder of Dream Girl Global; a non profit organization that seeks to empower young girls as a contribution to the fifth sustainable development goal and is currently in operation in Nigeria and India. She also sits on the international board of Uriji, London, a social media company that helps to record dreams for as many years imaginable and help users earn while promoting their passion. She is the youngest and first Nigerian on this Board.

Precious is currently pursuing a career in Law, and is currently a Bar Candidate at the Lagos Campus of the Nigerian Law School. Prior to this, she interned at notable law firms across the Country including Olaniwun Ajayi LP, Templars, Banwo & Ighodalo, and Aluko & Oyebode. She has also served as an external support personnel at global Law Firm, White & Case.

In her spare time, she loves to watch movies, swim, travel, learn French, and taste exquisite dishes.

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NGOs - SDGs

Coca‑Cola Africa Launches JAMII, Its New Sustainability Platform

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Coca‑Cola Africa Operating Unit (“AOU”) and its bottling partners announced the launch of JAMII, the new Africa-focused sustainability platform. The platform houses the Company’s existing and new sustainability initiatives. Through this signature platform, Coca‑Cola hopes to attract like-minded partners to help accelerate the on-the-ground impact of its initiatives.

The new platform will build and expand on the past accomplishments in three areas; water stewardship, the economic empowerment of women and youth and waste management. This will be delivered together with bottling partners, system employees, and several NGO partners.

“We recognize the responsibility we have as market leaders to make a meaningful difference. To empower and protect the communities and the environment in which we operate. Whether it is giving people access to safe drinking water, creating economic opportunities for people in dire need of it. Or reducing the impact of our operations on the environment, we are committed to making that difference.” said Bruno Pietracci, Africa President at The Coca‑Cola Company.

Patricia Obozuwa, AOU Vice President for Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability added; “We chose the name JAMII, a Swahili word that means Community, Society, People. This is because it represents who we are as Africans and aligns with our values as an organization. Our resilience, our commitment, and our spirit of community. Consolidating our sustainability efforts under this umbrella will allow us to strengthen our value proposition. And make good on our promise to continue to be a trusted partner for sustainable growth in Africa.”

In the area of women and youth economic empowerment, JAMII will ​​promote and stimulate entrepreneurship opportunities. Through the provision of improved access to skills training, networks, finance and markets. To date, over 2 million women across Africa have been economically enabled as part of the 5by20 program.

Also in the area of water stewardship, we will replenish 100% of the water used in production of our products. By managing water use efficiency in our operations, supporting the conservation of natural water resources. And improving community water access and climate change adaptation. So far, combined efforts by Coca‑Cola Africa, The Coca‑Cola Foundation and its partners have resulted in sustainable access to drinking water for over 6 million people through the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN). 

For waste management, Coca‑Cola Africa is committed to driving a world without waste. Nearly all of Coca‑Cola’s packaging is already recyclable, with the goal of recycling the equivalent of 100% of its packaging waste by 2030.

Obozuwa added that “Coca‑Cola Africa is already forming new partnerships to facilitate the implementation of JAMII projects that will deliver on these goals.”

Internally, JAMII will inspire employees to make a difference in their immediate communities. Employee-nominated charities will receive grants and employee volunteering will be encouraged. Also, The Coca‑Cola Employee Disaster Relief Fund will support employees facing financial hardship as a result of a natural disaster. 

 

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Oliver Griffith: Protecting Africa’s forests through REDD+

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Oliver Griffith, is a former US Diplomat and World Bank Group (Image: Oliver Griffith)

Deforestation and forest degradation are the second leading causes of global warming, responsible for about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The recent COP-26 recognized this with a pledge to stop deforestation by 2030. But how will we get there?

Can we in the North tell developing countries not to cut down their forests because we need them as carbon sinks to slow down climate change? Not without some form of compensation. They’re desperate for economic growth and have a right to use their resources. 

European countries cut down their trees centuries ago for the same reasons. And the US now emits over 15 metric tons of CO2 per capita, almost eight times as much as the average sub-Saharan country. The same people who lecture developing countries are the ones who drive SUVs. And consume the soy-fed beef and palm oil that contribute to deforestation. We need a reality check.

Why not just buy all those rainforests and turn them into national parks to preserve them as the world’s lungs? Not a bad idea, and it’s worked in some places, but what if there are people living in the forests and contributing to their demise? Population pressure, subsistence farming, and fuel wood and charcoal making account for about half of tropical forest loss, while commercial agriculture, logging, and more recently climate disasters, account for the rest. So, the obvious solution is to lessen these activities.

Since at least half of deforestation is linked to rich world consumption patterns, an important step is to change these. There are encouraging signs, but the growing middle classes in developing countries want to live well too. And how can we tell a family just escaping poverty that they shouldn’t have modern conveniences or eat beef? Changing habits and the economic models that sustain them won’t be easy.

Tackling deforestation on the ground is an indispensable adjunct. It should involve giving indigenous inhabitants title to the lands they have sustainably used for centuries. Creating family planning programs to ease demographic pressure, and finding sustainable livelihoods for forest dwellers. And governments must cut subsidies for unsustainable forest activities and improve environmental laws and forest management.

Since the primary drivers of deforestation are economic, we must find economic solutions, making the trees more valuable standing than cutting down. Among the most effective and far reaching is the United Nations’ REDD+ program. It Reduces Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation by selling carbon credits based on verified emission reductions in forests. The proceeds are used to help the forest communities find more sustainable livelihoods and improve their standards of living. By harnessing market-based economic mechanisms for an economic problem. It may have the greatest chance of success among the many initiatives with the same goals.

A crucial component is gaining influence in the decision-making process for land use, which is challenging in the countries where most tropical forests are located. It requires international encouragement, such as through COP-26, and local policy reforms. At the same time we need quick action on the ground where deforestation is happening.

The results so far are encouraging. Studies of REDD+ projects worldwide have found that they reduce deforestation while improving the lives of forest dwellers. Moreover, REDD+ has increased the awareness and commitment of governments and the private sector on the importance of forest preservation. Pinpointed commercial agriculture as a driver of deforestation, and provided a platform to secure land rights. It’s not a magic bullet and must be combined with activism against polluting companies in the global North, but it’s a good start.

Oliver Griffith recently visited two REDD+ projects run by Wildlife Works, a private conservation company. The Kasigau Corridor Project in Kenya, which was the first REDD+ project to be verified by the two main REDD+ standards (VCS, CCBA) in 2011, and the ERA-Congo Project in Mai Ndombe province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). What impressed me was not just the slowing down of deforestation. But the positive socio-economic effects of the substantial funds flowing into these poor regions from the sale of carbon credits. 

In the Kasigau Corridor area, wherever you turn there are community projects, from schools and clinics to handicrafts cooperatives, water tanks, pumps, and farming cooperatives. In fact, Wildlife Works facilities are far more visible than those of the local or national governments.

In Mai Ndombe the impact is even more dramatic. The 180,000 residents in the isolated forest communities in the 300,000-hectare project area lack just about everything – health care, education, electricity, running water, and adequate nutrition. Once again, the community-based Wildlife Works projects are popping up everywhere, and are already reaching over 50,000 people, taking the place of underfunded state services. That this is happening in the DRC, and with relatively efficient support from the government, is even more remarkable.

Time will tell if such projects are sustainable in the long term. It would be better if developing governments took on these tasks themselves, and rich countries finally fulfilled their promises to drastically cut emissions. However, this is wishful thinking so, given the urgency of deforestation, we need viable alternatives such as REDD+.

 

Article By: Oliver Griffith, a former US Diplomat and World Bank Group (IFC) official with 35 years in foreign affairs. Much of it devoted to Africa and economic affairs. 

 

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Sarah Boateng, A Social Entrepreneur Investing In Girls Living In Rural Communities Across Africa

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Sarah Boateng, Founder of IGEA Enterprise (Image: Supplied)

Sarah Boateng is an award-winning social entrepreneur, passionate advocate for young girls living in rural communities in Africa. She aims to eliminate all barriers blocking girls in Africa from accessing quality education. These barriers may be physical, such as rampant illnesses, menstruation, distance from schools. As a Special Educational Needs and Psychology graduate at the age of 21, Sarah always had a desire to see education accessible to those in marginalised communities. She in 2016 in the quest to understand the issues facing young girls in the local community. 

Then she discovered that girls were still hindered by the opportunity to have a quality education. Which was the same experience her mother had growing up in rural Ghana over 50 years ago. She knew there was something that needed to be done. Having worked for the Unite Nations (UN) in Geneva and found that working for such a large organisation would be extremely difficult to make the change she would like to see. Sarah launched IGEA as way to create an organisation for the community they wish to support.

Investing in Girls Education in Africa (IGEA) is a non for profit organisation with a mission of delivering quality education to girls in rural parts of Africa. Starting operations in Ghana, the home country its founder. we aim to collaborate with like-minded people and groups in order to work all over the continent.

Sarah Boateng in class with the students

She and her team started off a pilot of 100 girls in our project through crowdfunding. In under two years, they were able to provide over 10,000 period products in the U.K. and Ghana. The IGEA team also designed a programme called ‘Menstruate and Educate’, aimed to support girls attend school whilst menstruating in rural communities in Africa. They work with the local community leaders and the education service to deliver workshops. Highlighting the importance of education and additionally targeting the taboos of menstruation in the community.

The Girls and their packs

Additionally, they run workshops for the parents and teachers aimed to enlighten them about the importance of girls education. And ways which they can support them and get them involved. Lastly, IGEA provide reusable period pads that last for up to two years. Which support girls to attend school whilst menstruating.

 

 

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