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Happy International Women’s Day🎊🎉❤✨

Meet 4 amazing women making waves in the social impact and development space.

It’s that time of the year again when we appreciate women globally for their great contributions to the world. We are not strangers to the immense obligations most women are burdened with, and the unnecessary bias, inequality, and discrimination women have to fight through to succeed in different spheres of life. Gladly, we are moving (though slowly) towards a more inclusive and equitable world.

Today, I’ll share the stories of four amazing women making waves in the social impact and development space. Their work cuts across education, advocacy for gender equality, empowerment of children in underprivileged communities, and female inclusion in politics. These women have positively impacted lives across Nigeria and are driving toward a better world for us all.

Here are there:

Mrs. Mercy Bello is the Founder and Executive Director of DreamCode Africa, a Nigerian-based nonprofit that inspires and enables public secondary school students to gain relevant life and tech skills through fun-based education.

During her master’s program in Organizational Leadership at Eastern University, Pennsylvania, USA, Mercy Bello founded DreamCode Africa. Having schooled in a public secondary school herself, she was well aware of the limitations and deficits in the Nigerian public secondary education sector. So she set out to invest in and impact the lives of many young children in Nigeria.

On finishing her master’s program, she was led to come back to Nigeria and pursue the vision of DreamCode full-time, forfeiting opportunities to gain employment at big firms and organizations in the US.

Today, the NGO is headquartered in Ogun state, Nigeria, in its specially designed hub, the DreamCode Learning Centre. In the words of Mrs. Bello, “The learning center is a safe space for the kids to collaborate and learn and explore their creativity. A place where students can get the support they need without the fear of being labeled by teachers who don’t really understand them.”

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One of Dream Code’s goals is to empower 10,000 students in the next 5 years. The bigger picture is having Dream code Learning Centers in every inner city in the country and in Africa that serves as collaborative learning spaces that equip children to be all they were born to be. Achieving these goals will go a long way in impacting Nigeria.

To learn more about her organization, read our article on Dream Code.

2. Oluwadamilola Akintewe

Oluwadamilola Akintewe is a social activist, writer, and entrepreneur who has gained local and international recognition for her work centered on closing the gender gaps experienced by women in society. She is the founder and Team Lead of Forbidden Topics, a campaign that raises women’s voices against all forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and other issues that women face daily. Oluwadamilola is a graduate of law from Adekunle Ajasin University (AAUA) in Ondo State, Nigeria.

Having dealt with mental health issues and trauma from being a victim of gender-based violence, Oluwadamilola decided to promote social change through gender advocacy. During the 2020 pandemic lockdown, the rate of sexual violence in Nigeria rose at alarming rates. She founded the Forbidden Topics platform to tackle this issue, leveraging social media to raise awareness of sexual and gender-based violence. Forbidden Topics has united women from over 25 countries in a solidarity movement against gender inequality.

Her social development and advocacy work has garnered her a lot of recognition and awards over the past few years. In 2020 she was crowned “Miss speaker” at the Miss career Africa program that finances young female Entrepreneurs in Africa. In 2021 she emerged as the first Nigerian finalist of the inaugural Chegg global student prize out of 3,500 nominations and applications from 94 countries worldwide. In the same year, she won multiple essay competitions. One of which was the Samantha Singh Memorial Award for Young People Aspiring To Careers In Development Policy.

Last year she received the 2022 Diana Award for Social Impact and fully funded trips to the United Kingdom for the One Young World 22 Manchester Summit and the Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna.

To learn more about her, read our spotlight article on her.

3. Tolulope Gbenro

Tolulope Gbenro is an SDG advocate, social impact activist, and the project lead for the Space for Her fellowship, a program focused on increasing female participation in Nigerian politics.

She has years of experience in the world of social impact and sustainable development, ranging from volunteering as a student for global nonprofits such as Enactus, and Hult Prize, to working with local NGOs and impact-driven initiatives that have drawn local and international recognition.

Through these experiences, she has been able to lend her voice to advocate for various causes, such as female inclusion in Nigerian politics, intergenerational solidarity for a better world, access to education for female children in all parts of Nigeria, and many more. She has also built a large network of professionals making an impact across different industries in Nigeria, Africa, and the world at large.

Her project, the space for her fellowship, is the flagship program of the Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI), a non-profit focused on promoting civic engagement, political participation, and good governance. Through the first edition of the program in 2022, Tolu and her team were able to teach and train 20 female political aspirants on Nigerian legislation and conduct political awareness campaigns. The program was successful as 500 students were directly impacted via their awareness campaigns. Two of the aspirants have been appointed as the representatives of their constituencies in the 2023 House of assembly elections in Kwara State.

To learn more about her, read our spotlight article on her.

4. Motunrayo Fatoke

Motunrayo Fatoke, a graduate of the University of Ibadan, has spent the past 4 years of her life tackling education inequality and increasing equal access to education for underprivileged and disadvantaged children in Nigeria.

She is the Senior Programmes Assistant for The Education Partnership (TEP) Centre in the education investment unit. She liaises and engages with private sector actors in investing in education through their identified CSR programs leveraging best practices in education.

In September 2022, She was invited to the United Nations Headquarters in New York to participate in the 2022 transforming education summit. She was part of the team that designed and launched the Global Youth Declaration there. She also had the opportunity to discuss with Gordon Brown — the former British Prime Minister- the launch of the international financing facility for education (IFFEd) with a commitment of 3 billion pounds from several global organizations to education for low-income and conflict-affected countries.

In the last 2 years, as a Global youth ambassador of TheirWorld, she has led the conversation at the 2021 Global Education Summit and served as a moderator at the Kenya Ed-tech side events.

She also led the education commission takeover for international youths day to showcase youths’ work in education to a global network, and I created content that received over 15,000 impressions.

To learn more about her, read our spotlight article on her.

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The baseline is an informative media blog that focuses on how social impact and sustainable development cut across different sectors, industries and demographics in Nigeria.

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Adeoluwa Adegboye

Data Scientist & Journalist. I tell stories of social impact and sustainable development in Africa 🌎✨ at