Phenomenal Women: Commonwealth & Beyond

Posted by Jay in Travel on November 10th, 2017



Every Woman Matters Summit

It is not often in my life that I get opportunities to meet with and speak to people that really are the movers and shakers of the world. Those that have the status, desire and connections to bring about positive change to the world. I had the great fortune to meet a woman by the name of Mrs Grace Alexander a couple of years ago, and my life has changed for the better since that encounter. Mrs Alexander is the founder of Star Children Initiative a non-profit organisation that aims to empower disabled youths (up to 21) and disabled women within Nigeria. The organisation also looks to bring awareness to the needs and challenges faced by those living with disabilities in my home country of Nigeria. SCI also engages advocacy and capacity building work here in the UK. I was honoured when she asked me to be an ambassador for the organisation. I have enjoyed watching her work and fight for the rights of those that are usually left behind.

It is through my connection with her that I have been able to speak at the “Every Woman Matters” summit in June of this year. I highlighted the need for disabled people themselves to be at the table when discussions about their needs and well being are being discussed. I was in the company of some truly amazing and passionate women, those that wanted to do everything they could to improve the lives of those that are not usually even considered. Women from different parts of Africa, as well as the UK spoke of the work they do and how important the summit was for the continued improvement of their work.



L-R: Mrs Alexander, Ms McKenzie, Jay

I was invited last minute to attend a meeting held at the Commonwealth Secretariat with Ms Karen McKenzie who heads the Human Rights division. I had never dreamed of being able to attend a meeting with such a high ranking member of the Secretariat. It was thanks to the tenacity of Mrs Alexander that I was afforded such an opportunity. I was the designated note taker on behalf of SCI, and provided the summary notes, afterwards. Being in the meeting with Ms McKenzie and her aide was like a private masterclass into the ways of being able to raise the profile of SCI and help as many disabled people as we could. It was a great pleasure to have been in that meeting and learn so much from someone that has such a wealth of experience.



L-R: Mrs Alexander, Dr Ojiambo, Jay, Amanda, Bimbola, Kemi

My second time at the Commonwealth Secretariat today was truly inspiring. Myself, Mrs Alexander and two other women from non profit organisations. Being in the presence of Dr Ojiambo and seeing how she shared her expertise, time, and connections with us was something to behold. Even getting an audience with someone of such a high stature is a very big deal and cannot be overstated. Dr Ojiambo and a staff member from the Commonwealth Secretariat took the time to provide tips on how to properly achieve our goals. Who we needed to talk to, and the kind of language we would need to use. I could see that she understood and believed in the importance of what we were trying to do, and was very supportive. We need more black women in high ranking, powerful positions, as well as the grassroots.

It is thanks to a meeting with the tenacious and unwavering spirit of Mrs Alexander, that I have been allowed into such important meetings. While I cannot say much, please rest assured that there are actions being taken in the background. And hopefully, we shall see the fruits of labour in the new year.

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about Jayon UPDATE: As of 25/09/2015 Nigeria has been removed from the WHO's Polio Endemic List! Having been born in Nigeria, I hail from one of three countries where polio is still unfortunately endemic, the other two being Pakistan and Afghanistan. I had contracted the poliovirus before my ...Read More

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