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I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

When I initially set out to create positive change, my intention was not to make news or be in the public eye. Somehow, fate had never bequeathed me the opportunity to be in the shadows. This however is not to say that I had always perceived myself as one who was capable of any leadership role or power. As these thoughts filtered through my mind and I finally settled down to writing out my vision, I recollected some of the powerful, inspiring and challenging stories that I have been privileged to read on PulseWire. I said to my self, of a truth, when others tell their stories and we listen, we hear our stories in theirs. One of such stories I recalled, brought to the very present some encounters I had always kept close to my chest. Between 2003 and early 2004, I had to quit three apparently lucrative jobs in sequence. Reasons, Unwelcome sexual advances that created an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment for me. Is that not how sexual harassment is defined? Why must I give up my self-worth to keep a job? I chose the path that seemed most honorable to me…..I quitted! The story was not much different as I stepped into a male dominated cycle of social change makers and professionals in my community. I was trying to accomplish a difficult feat which is generally considered a man’s activity and was not going to quit again. At this point, I had two driving resolves: to equip myself enough not to ever be cowed, and never to exchange my self-worth for illicit offers. Currently, without letting go or giving in, I have a master’s degree in my kitty, I am looking forward to a PhD and still pursuing a passionate cause. Permit me to say here, that I am on the path to fulfilling my dream of becoming a trailblazer in environmental stewardship. I would very much love to maximize my self and career development achievements and be best positioned to make tangible contributions to the drive for environmental sustainability in my community and beyond. Viewing my community through the lenses of the environment sustainability, I abhor the sight of unmanaged waste dumps and sites, blocked drainages and canals, people throwing wastes out of moving vehicles, polluted water ways, littered streets, as well as decomposing and smelly garbage. I worry about the stories of the realities of climate change and indigenous women’s vulnerability to its impacts (encroaching deserts, drought, and increasing water scarcity, lost livelihoods and heritages, erosion and floods amongst others), disappearing forests, natural resource conflicts and threatened food security. I also bear in mind, women and children (especially girls) trekking very long distances and spending valuable time each day in search of water (often from polluted sources) and or fuel-wood. Such excruciating burdens! With the same resolve I made for my self, I want to facilitate and see more women’s leadership being integrated into environmental work. I want women’s efforts to be recognized. Why? I have seen and heard stories of how women in my community crumble under the weight of heavy water filled containers and stacks of fuel-wood. They are exposed to increasing sexual assault and abduction in their effort to access natural resources and are lack basic sanitation and poor hygiene, experience high incidences of water and air related diseases, and are denied property and inheritance rights. Time and time again, they bear the consequences of natural resource conflicts. Such women account for a significant percentage of the world’s population. Can we make their lives better? Can policy makers ensure that these women are equally involved in consultation processes as well as in the management and implementation of environmental policies and programs? I envision a world where the approach to natural resource management will be women sensitive, rights based, and inclusive. By becoming a Voices of Our Future Correspondent, I would have the opportunity to be guarded by an expert; who will further help to translate my dreams into actions; in a manner that would honour my experiences and passions and also help me generate and disseminate information that will be beneficial to affected and interested parties all over the world.

Comments

Stella Paul's picture

Yes you will

A strong willed woman such as you can never fail Olanike. Slowed it maybe, but change you will definitely bring and the benefit of that will be everyone's. I am hoping strongly that you will be a VOF and wish you much luck too!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Greengirl's picture

Hi There!

I trust that you are feeling a lot better now, Stella. You are such a motivator! I bet your being a part of VOF has been strengthening for everyone you have touched. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

Carlotta's picture

The issue of sexual assault

The issue of sexual assault in the work place is quite a thorn. One of my seniors when i was an intern made unwelcome moves on me. At first i just endured and it got worse to a point where i would be terrified of going to work. I then reported him to the superiors and he was cautioned. The sad thing is i made a lot of enemies, some of them women would you believe it, who felt i had taken things too far by reporting him.
My heart goes out to women who have so much physical labour to do. That has long term effects, some end up with back or spine-related problems and that's very heartbreaking considering that their hard work is hardly acknowledged. You really write so well and i hope you keep writing so that i can also learn how to protect my environment and impart the knowledge to others. You could talk about recycling and other topics that environmentalists might take for granted that everybody ought to know. Best wishes!

MaDube's picture

Exactly

Yes sexual harassment is a power game whether it happens on the street or in an office space. As much as it makes me angry it also makes me feel pity on these men who have such a low self esteem and low opinion of themselves that they believe bullying a woman because she is weaker makes them more manly. It is a cowardly act and men should realise that they only demean themselves more in our eyes when they do these things.

Greengirl's picture

Cowardly indeed!

I hope men who are involved in such acts actually realize that they are demeaning themselves. My dear lawyer, would you believe that one of them was a lawyer???????????? Though a friend advised me to report him to the Nigerian Bar Association, I sure was not ready for the likely publicity it would have attracted at the time. I am just glad that I am fulfilling my passion now.

Carlotta's picture

Big mistake!!! Your abuser

Big mistake!!! Your abuser probably capitalised on the knowledge that you would not go anywhere for fear of the publicity. that's what abusers do, they know you won't tell because you are afraid of the publicity, that people won't believe you because he is probably a respected member of society or that you think people will blame you for soliciting his attention. We will deal with them. We should keep talking about these issues.

Greengirl's picture

Positive!

Carlotta, you strike me as someone who always thinks well ahead. Always offering a dependable solution. Would you consider being there for me anytime I need an advise? Your suggestion on talking about these issues is quite important. It is one sure way we can put an end to such societal pain in the neck. Speak, we shall.

Carlotta's picture

Olanike, call on me anytime

Olanike, call on me anytime you need to have advice. it might not be the best but it will be available. Thanks for thinking so highly of me.

Greengirl's picture

Great Carlotta!

Thanks for accepting my offer, we will sure get to know more about one another as the days go by.
Blessings!

Olanike.

Greengirl's picture

Thank you Carlotta

I am motivated by your comment. About the enemies you made, it really doesn't matter. What matters is that you have your head high up. For me, there was really no one to report to, because the people involved call the shots. I would surely look into your suggestion about other topics; though sometimes, I have my hands so full that I could barely spare enough time to to write. Good news however is that VOF has reawakened me to making enough room for this past time. It may interest you to know that I was involved in freelance writing on environmental issues some time in the past. I also ran my own column tagged "Environmental Watch". I have quite a number of articles to my credit and also have an article on solid waste disposal options. Recycling was mentioned. I will fish out the article and post it in my journal. It sure will be dedicated to you! I am glad that you are interested in environmental stewardship. Welcome aboard!

Thankfully,

Olanike

Greengirl's picture

Thanks a Million Carlotta

You just got me thinking even more positively!
Best Wishes,

Olanike

YAOtieno's picture

Can do

Among the many things that i have gathered from treading your articles is that you have a"CAN DO" attitude which we need more of. Enjoyed reading your articles as well as the comments.

PS: I checked out the training with the Candle inscriptions - Whole Woman, Whole Leadership..., Sadly i missed the application deadline for the next intake. I know have it bookmarked...:-)

Thanks for sharing,

Cheers,

Y

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

Greengirl's picture

Again!

You just lit me up again! I wish you the very best in your exploits, and hopefully too, you would make the next application.

Greengirl's picture

Again!

You just lit me up again! I wish you the very best in your exploits, and hopefully too, you would make the next application.

DDMCFARLANE's picture

A real trailblazer

Dear Olanike, You have shown integrity from your past actions and I have no doubt that you will achieve your "dream of becoming a trailblazer in environmental stewardship". Your education, passion, and drive will get you there!

DD

ddmcf

Greengirl's picture

Hugs DD!

Dreams do come true DD. I am sure your dreams would also come true for you and the world you seek to touch. Your works are quite motivating. Hugs and Hugs and more Hugs from me to you!

Olanike

Julie Tomlin's picture

Thank you

I enjoyed reading about your personal history and your determination to overcome barriers and really appreciate how that experience has been forged into a vision and compassion for other women. I wish you well with all that you do and look forward to hearing more about how you put that vision into practice.

Yours,
Julie

@julietomlin

Greengirl's picture

Many Thanks To You "Julie"

I sincerely appreciate your comments. Through the Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment, a Non Governmental organization which I founded, my vision is already becoming a reality. The Organization is already providing support to grassroots women especially in the areas of natural resource access and management. Till date, we have implemented quite a number of projects that cut across Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Alternative Energy and Livelihoods and Tree Planting amongst others. Our most recent work which is at the planning stage is a collaborative one on the formation of women cluster groups. The cluster groups would be financially supported to go into small scale plantation of cash crops for income purposes. As a result of your interests, I will make an effort to post some of our success stories in my journal. It may also interest you to know that our website will soon be launched. It is being donated to us by one of our international supports. I will keep you posted.

You are highly appreciated!

Olanike

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