We write about Social issues and Advocacy in Africa.
With The Social Advocates.
One of the mandates of social work is to advance the interests of social justice, particularly on behalf of populations or groups that have been disadvantaged, disempowered or discriminated against. Advocacy promotes equality, social justice and social inclusion. It informs people of their own rights, allows them exercise these rights , be involved in and influence decisions that are being made about their future.
In Africa today, we can only say that social advocacy is still under construction due to many obvious reasons but we cannot ignore efforts being made by corporations, individuals and groups to change the narrative. Days ago, I spoke with the amazing Tomiwa, of The Social Advocates — a nonprofit aimed at influencing social policy and advancing public interest in social justice by undertaking activities that promote equality, justice and inclusion. They’re speaking out on issues from women rights, medical care child welfare and education.
Richard: okay, for you Tomiwa, why did you choose social work?
Tomiwa: I’ve always been interested in development and the social sector. I think for me it’s about ensuring everyone has the same level of opportunity and there is enough for everyone to compete.
Richard: hmmm okay, how’ve you been able to evangelize this ‘gospel’ in your own community?
Tomiwa: well, I started off trying to start a nonprofit to cater to some of the problems before my final year in the university (i had chosen child nutrition). The plan was to go back to university, finish and then come and do that.. but then, I went to do a masters instead, social entrepreneurship- i discovered it during my final year and thought it was in line with my goal; then during my masters, i found that the issues were larger than i thought, that there are almost always negative effects to even the good intention things like nonprofits and charity work so i thought it might be best to find a way to ensure efficiency within the nonprofit sector rather than adding my own to the pile competing for donor money and so I started talking to a few people, Hamidah and I decided to start a social advocacy website that concentrates on social issues in Nigeria, the best ways to solve them and who is presently solving them.
Richard: I remember when I teamed up with friends to be community impact agents (CIA), we started well, washed all the cars in our estate, organized yard sales and donated books but after a short time, energy died because a lot of people found it hard to take these problems upon themselves or perhaps, because it wasn’t a ‘startup’ that could move on to be a money machine, have there been challenges?
Tomiwa: yeah, honestly i think the biggest challenge has been finding the right structure. Bit started off as trying to promote nonprofit work by focusing on what they’re doing and trying to raise funds for them but we found it couldn’t work for various reasons, so now we’re focusing on highlighting social issues, basically like focusing on social advocacy with the problems being the focus rather than the organizations.
Richard: amazing! so now let’s talk about The Social Advocates, and the issues the organization is particularly interested in tackling?
Tomiwa: we’re not focused on anything in particular. Our goal is to discuss and shed light on any issues that hinder economic and social development and also support the various organizations and individuals taking action.
Richard: what are the changes you hope for? and is this a pan african movement?
Tomiwa: we’re hoping to get more people to take action, to create an opportunity for people to do more than just talk; with our support.
Richard: this sounds like work and fun at the same time! Anything we should be looking forward to?
Tomiwa: we plan to get active with more social events. That’s something to look out for.
Richard: so for the guys out there who are willing to be part of this initiative, how can they be family?
Tomiwa: reach out! we’re willing to work with anyone who has any ideas on how we can be better. They can send us a message on how they’d like to contribute or fill out the volunteer form on the website. We also accept article/writeup contributions.