The phrase, ‘the future is female’ isn’t just some word coined out of emotions, it’s the new reality in Nigeria, Africa, and the world today. On Wednesday, 14th of March 2019, Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, founder of Stand to End Rape – S.T.E.R Initiative was named as the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year. The event held at the Marlborough House, the Commonwealth Secretariat’s London headquarters.
Osowobiluwaseun, who also Regional winner for Africa & Europe for Excellence in Development Work in SDG5: Gender Equality, also received a prize of £5,000, which she will use to expand her activities in Nigeria.
The award was presented by the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland. Oluwaseun was selected from 16 finalists, four regional winners and more than 500 people from across the Commonwealth who were also nominated for the award.
Her acceptance speech goes thus:
This award reminds me that when young people don’t look away in the face of injustice, and say ‘no’ to cultural biases, we have the capacity to create change because we are magic.
Winning this award encourages me to keep working hard to build a safe community for women, girls and men in Nigeria and that my story is valid.
To my team and I, the award is a reminder that our work is seen, felt and should not stop now.
Our organisation provides medical, legal, mental health and psychosocial support, and empowerment services – depending on the requirement. In certain instances, we provide shelter access and financial support to survivors.
Having experienced sexual violence myself, I understand the cultural barrier of speaking up, and the lapses or lack of services available.
This award is a reaffirmation that elimination of sexual violence in Nigeria and other Commonwealth Countries is important and a core agenda of the Commonwealth Secretariat as we work towards achieving a ‘Connected Commonwealth’.