I am Omesham Noelle Oputa, a 26-year-old Nigerian and currently a third year PhD researcher at SOAS, University of London. My first job was a fundraising intern role at a non-profit firm. Sounds funny but my necessary luxury would be sleep. I love to have a good rest and with ticking deadlines and tight work schedules, sleeping is such a luxury lol. I have a huge passion for children- for the African child and all my work and research revolves around giving children a voice and a better life particularly improving their educational experiences and tackling issues relating to violence and bullying in schools.
WHAT FUELS ME?
Tenacious: This word sums up my whole PhD experience. The only reason I haven’t given up is that I made up my mind that despite all odds and challenges, I will finish my research. It hasn’t been a rosy experience but tenacity is certainly needed to finish whatever project a person begins.
Humility: I believe in staying humble and relatable to others.
Faith: I am a Christian and my faith and relationship with God is the foundation of everything I do.
MY GREATEST INFLUENCE:
After God, I would say my family has the greatest influence on me. Their support, love, and motivation have been everything to me.
MY TOP THREE ROLE MODELS:
Dr Oby Ezekwesili, she was a minister of education in Nigeria and known for her relentless campaign for the abducted chibok school girls. I love her passion for humanity and dedication to fighting for the underrepresented, her intelligence and her zero tolerance for “political games”
Ada Osakwe, she is a young global leader and a creative food and agricultural entrepreneur. I haven’t met her in person but I have followed her work closely. I love her passion for Nigeria and determination to make her ventures thrive despite the many hurdles of owning and running a business venture in Nigeria
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I love that she is not afraid to stand for what she believes in even if it means going against the crowd. I also love the excellence she puts into her work. What is doing is worth doing well.
IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS…..
Finish my PhD and my book, influence education policies and establish my NGO to tackle issues of bullying in schools in Nigeria.
THE AFRICAN WOMAN’S CHALLENGE:
As I write in my research, the African woman today is laden with so many obligations and responsibilities. She is supposed to be educated, have a good job and be a homemaker all at once. Cultural definitions of femininity expect her to juggle all these with little or no help. Young girls in schools already comprehend these responsibilities and most of them will prefer to give up their dreams for alternative “less demanding” educational pursuits and careers to enable them to fulfill their feminine gender roles.
Also, we have the issue of gender stereotypes where women and girl believe that there are certain educational courses and positions they cannot study and occupy because they are women and this is sad. My little contribution to solving these issues has been to start a conversation and raise awareness to debunk such stereotypes. I successfully conducted an online chat series on twitter surrounding these issues and hope to facilitate programmes in schools with girls.
WHAT I DO TO RELAX:
I sleep, eat and watch a lot of movies! I also go out when I can.
MY – I.C.E. [INSPIRE|CELEBRATE|EMPOWER] VISION
Simply because she is everything!!
MY AFRICAN UNION PLANS:
I would seek to occupy a position that creates awareness and debunks a lot of cultural and religious myths and practices that have adversely affected the African woman. I will also focus on children who are our tomorrow to ensure that boys and girls have equal opportunities to attain great heights.
FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE:
There is nothing you cannot do or no height that is non-attainable because you are a woman or girl. Also, women please support other women. Do not be the agents of harmful practices like FGM. For mothers and wives, do not be agents of gender stereotypical socialization practices at home. Raise your sons to respect women, raise your sons to “cook” and do chores that are regarded as feminine so they don’t have to wait for a woman to do everything for them. Also, wives and mothers, please breathe! and ask for help when you need help. Finally, you don’t have to sacrifice your dreams for your obligations, try to pursue that passion you have, the world is waiting for you.