Meet Oluwaseun Folajuwon-Banjo

Posted by I Take Actions Admin in Calls for Action, 11 Oct 2021 08:05

The reality of how tough the world is particularly for the vulnerable and the indigent and how their rights are easily trampled upon … form part of my strong motivation to uphold the rights of the vulnerable, particularly the rights of women and girls.

This ‘vigour of youthfulness’ and commitment to service is what drives 36-year-old Oluwaseun Folajuwon-Banjo, a lawyer, development specialist, and right advocate from Osun state, Nigeria. For four years now, she has been the Founder and Executive Director of Savingcross Justicepoint Foundation, working across Nigeria to promote freedom and access to justice among communities through free legal and holistic social services.

Speaking on behalf of the Foundation, Oluwaseun recognized the susceptibility of women and girls to sexual violence because of their gender and its contribution to the inequality that lingers in Nigeria even well into the 21st century. Her experience of domestic violence has greatly added to her drive to help fellow “vulnerable and looked-over” women and girls to survive it as well and succeed.

I grew up from a domestic violence home and still remember the horror of the physical, emotional, verbal, and economical abuses between my parents as well as the shameful effect of these abuses on my siblings and me in our neighbourhood,” Olowaseun bravely admitted. “After my mum finally left, I recall how tough survival was for me and how particularly I had to struggle to support the home for feeding, see myself through school and now, work to take care of my siblings’ needs; [and even more so] the exposure to dangers and threats, the low self-esteem amongst my peers. The daily battle for survival choked up the idea of daring to dream.

This personal story is shared by Oluwaseun and several of her other colleagues in the Foundation. They campaign for equal treatment between women and their male counterparts and look forward to more women occupying diverse leadership positions, especially as they represent half of the population in policy-making. They muster campaigns against sexual violence and female genital mutilation; and provide psychological first aid for women and girl victims, educational scholarships for survivors of violence, leadership development and mentoring through their Gem-Girls Group Platform, and entrepreneurship programs for women youth. Challenges persist still. Government bureaucracy red-tape and bouts with corrupt practices impede the Foundation’s generous work.

“However, I do not allow myself to be deterred by any of these, knowing that the vision is bigger than the challenges. This positive mindset helps to use the challenges as stepping stones, and the results are speaking,” Oluwaseun shared. The rewards are quite “fulfilling and encouraging,” and has won her and the organization awards such as being made a fellow of the ActiveCitizen Fellowship. These accolades come secondary to the genuine satisfaction they receive, both from the communities they have been able to empower and the determined volunteers that continually add to their workforce.

Oluwaseun’s story and legacy is yet another proof of the crucial role that empowered, and principled women play in nation-building. This international Day of the Girl Child, let us join her and the rest of the defenders of our esteemed rights in fighting for a better future for all, boys and girls alike.

“Today’s youths are tomorrow’s leaders. The efforts the youth put into the work to improve the community now will translate into making the future peaceful and habitable then,” Oluwaseun ended.

This story was written by Mel Joseph Castro

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