Posted by By Yetunde Oladeinde on
Elizabeth Olayinka Sonubi is a woman after the hearts of rural women. With the Justice Development and Peace Commission, she has taken it upon herself to do her best to uplift women
Elizabeth Olayinka Sonubi is a woman after the hearts of rural women. With the Justice Development and Peace Commission, she has taken it upon herself to do her best to uplift women who are at the lower rungs of the ladder in the rural areas. Her first port of call are Remo and Ijebuland.
In the process of working with these women, Sonubi made many discoveries. She now knows that rural women are intelligent. They contributed immensely to the economy. She has also discovered that the women lack facilities to do their jobs.
"I am a social worker and I co-ordinate the women’s empowerment programme of JDPC, Ijebu-Ode. I was invited because of my involvement with women’s groups within and outside the church," she explains.
Even though the women in her communities are impressed with the positive changes she has imparted in their lives, Olayinka said the road to this success was really rough. "Then there was political crisis in the country. It was just after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 polls, and there was great instability in Nigeria," she recalls.
"There was also great apathy towards women’s empowerment in these communities at that time.
"It was difficult because I was involved with women at the grassroots," informs Olayinka who did not give up in spite of the challenges.
She said that then, women in the communities were seen, not heard. "They were really marginalised and believed that they must be submissive totally, adding happily however, "now, they know that they have rights and subscribe to active participation."
So far, Sonubi says things have changed for the better. "In many homes in these communities, you find that women are the breadwinners. They now have a say in the home. Now we have so many women aspiring for political positions."
If there is anything that gladdens Olayinka’s heart, it is the Coalition of Women’s Associations, a pressure group, which fights for the rights of women, she says that they have really made a difference in the community.
"That coalition advocated for the inclusion of women in the present administration. Some of these women have started negotiating while others are still trying to scale the hurdle. Sonubi believes that affirmative action is a very effective tool for development. "In Ogun State there is no policy for women. So, we are advocating for the 30 percent political appointment. All the commissioners, assembly members and other party executives are men. Even the current transitional committee members are men," she said. Toward this end, she says: "We’ve gone on advocacy visits to influential political groups, parties and there are promises."
She asked women to close ranks, saying: "Women should forget their differences and show love. Men are tolerating themselves because they want to stay in office. Unity is very important. We must also see that our rights are given to us in all spheres of life".
On what her day is like, Sonubi says: "If I have 24 hours in a day, I would still ask God to give me more time. I work round the clock and come back late everyday.
"I am lucky that I have a partner that is gender sensitive. Most often his friends say he is a feminist and he laughs about it. To be a social worker and a feminist for that matter you can imagine that my day would be too busy. It involves a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment," she says.
Husband and family
"I have his support and my children, too. My children are all grown up. Two of them are in the university while the last is in the secondary school.
"My husband is Anglican, we fellowship together at home, but on Sundays, we attend different churches."
In spite of this difference, there is a perfect harmony in the home "We don’t have any problems in the home. We don’t have any conflict over this. We both believe that we are serving the same God and that an individual has a right to chose," says Sonubi.
Of all her achievements to date, one thing she is proud to talk about is her spirituality. "My spiritual growth is very exciting. Some people call me Madam Faith. I believe that there is nothing God cannot do for me. God is my strength.
“That has really strengthened me to overcome all obstacles. I try as much as possible to serve and work for women so that they can inspire the younger generation of women," she says.
Where did she get all these ideas? She says that Reverend Father Patrick Ngoyi, is her mentor. "He believes in the development of all human beings. He always sees your good side being the image of God. I appreciate him because he is very intelligent, gender sensitive, generous and a genius.
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