As more and more voices continue to amplify the need for the enforcement of women and children’s rights as imperative to the attainment of equality, development and peace across the world, the IMAGINE Initiative of the New York-Based Empowerment Institute has extended its reach to Nigeria through its Country Director, Mrs. Busayo Obisakin, a Psychologist in the Guidance & Counseling Unit of Obafemi Awolowo University with a view to working with local partners to empower women.
The auspicious event entitled Imagine: Creating an Empowered Future for Nigerian Women recently held at the Starfire Hotel, GRA Ikeja and was hosted by the duo of Theresa McGahran, Director of Training and Mentoring for the Imagine Initiative of the Empowerment Institute and her colleague Danica MacAvoy, Director of Strategic Planning and Development. This was in partnership with the Busayo Obisakin-led Women Inspiration Development Center (WIDC) and was supported by other local non-profits partners namely Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE) led by Ms. Olanike Olubunmi Olugboji and Girls’ Voices Initiative led by Mrs. Carolyn Seaman. The round table conference also had in attendance representatives of Women-led NGOs in Lagos State.
In her welcome address, Theresa McGahran explained that the event was to showcase the impact of the current Nigerian partners as well as introduce the plans for scaling the IMAGINE Initiative.
Also speaking was Danica MacAvoy who hinted that one of their objectives is to engage Nigerian women through the agency-focused workshop, thereby empowering them to live purpose-driven and fulfilling lives, even in the face of challenges and cultural barriers.
The IMAGINE Country Manager, Busayo Obisakin recalled her experience at the Empowerment Institute and how the workshop has helped to shape her life, marriage and career.
Her words, “When I was going for the empowerment training in 2010, I was battling with the problem of high blood pressure due to the financial pressure and other challenges that weighed heavily on my mind at that time and was giving me sleepless nights. I was still very young and shouldn’t have such problem. But in the cause of the empowerment training, I learnt that my focusing on the problem will not solve it, but focusing on what will be the solution, looking inwards for a targeted solution will. And so I developed series of visions for myself and since I came back, I have kept growing in that vision, focusing on solutions and being positive minded. Interestingly, my health has also improved greatly. Today, no matter how bad things are, it hardly affects me. I don’t allow negative things get to me again. The workshop has really helped shape my life, my career and marriage.”
Mrs. Busayo Obisakin added that the transformation she experienced at the empowerment institute in New York was what inspired her to start her non-profit at Ile-Ife, Osun State.
“I wanted to help women rise above poverty because I discovered that a lot of women have suffered one form of violence or the other. This is the reason why lMAGINE Initiative seeks to empower women in challenging life circumstances. It has to with helping them develop a positive attitude- the I CAN spirit in spite of whatever issues they may be facing. And this is the essence of scaling this workshop”, said she.
Ms. Olanike Olugboji also recounted how as a certified trainer, she has been able to help many hapless women navigate through their marital, financial and emotional problems and how that they are completely transformed and empowered to stand tall in the face of life’s challenges and overcome.
Dr. Makanjuola Obisakin also corroborated that the empowerment workshop is equally imperative for Nigerian men in order to change the narrative and empower them to develop proper self esteem and team spirit. He recalled how through the workshop, many men have been inspired and empowered to become better husbands, fathers, friends and also successful professionals/businessmen.
Adding her voice, one of the current apprentices of the Imagine Initiative, Mrs. Aramide Oikelome of Bestspring Foundation noted that the reason many empowerment projects fail is because it is solely based on financial or physical empowerment. She cautioned that the first form of empowerment should be agency-focused as this will give women proper perspective to life and equip them with the mental and emotional strength to create the kind of life they want for themselves.
The meeting also afforded participants the opportunity to ask questions on how Imagine Initiative can reach the nooks and crannies of Nigeria in order to impact and empower more women to truly find fulfillment.
The IMAGINE Initiative works primarily with women-led NGOs in Africa, MENA, India, and Afghanistan to bring their agency-focused Empowerment Workshop to disenfranchised women. Johns Hopkins University deemed this work unparalleled in its capacity to deliver agency and catalyze positive behavior change. Their impact has been impressive as they work to empower women on issues of gender equality, anti-violence, poverty alleviation, stewardship of natural resources, economic empowerment, and political rights.