IWD: HOJ Foundation empowers over 10 female vocational trainees, advocate for gender equality

By Onome Naomi

The HOJ Foundation celebrates International Women’s Day 2024 in grand style, empowers over 10 vocational trainees who are beneficiaries of a fully sponsored and funded internship programme made available by the foundation. The theme of this year’s event,  ‘Count me in’ was exercised at the empowerment programme as start-up capital, laptops, and other monetary donations were given to beneficiaries.

The founder of the HOJ Foundation, Hon. Okey-Joe Onuakalusi, Member, Representing Oshodi-Isolo Constituency II, told pressmen at the event held on Saturday, March 9, 2024, that the foundation was borne out of the need to enhance the female gender and empower women. He said 60% of the microeconomic drive of the world, especially Nigeria, is dominated by women. In the 21st century, women can be the president of Nigeria, and the HOJ is prepared to ensure that women succeed. The theme ‘count me in’ shows that women feel excluded; all they seek is to make them part and the heart of the discussion. The foundation is aimed at empowering more women in the future, he quipped.

Hon. Okey-Joe further expressed his profound value for women, hence the drive of HOJ to empower women in the areas of skill acquisition, home management, and financial management to utilise the qualities in them. He mentioned that the HOJ Foundation is breaking barriers where all women and girls are valued. She says successful societies around the world are attributed to the female gender, yet Nigeria has had a long-standing problem achieving gender equality. “Women are faced with several problems like violence, poverty, and limited opportunities. Gender equality can enhance economic advancement, proficiency, and quality of life. Education also has a special role in empowering women to ensure that girl-child education is achieved and seen as very key to societal growth and development.

In his opening speech, he emphasised on gender equality by summarising the factors by which the HOJ Foundation empowers women. He said:

“When a woman has access to finance, she can provide a better education for her children, afford the best possible healthcare for her family, and afford better housing. Through financial security, she gains greater economic power. Women and men must enjoy equal opportunities, choices, capabilities, power, and knowledge as equal citizens. Equipping girls and boys, women and men, with the knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills to tackle gender disparities is a precondition to building a sustainable future for all.

This is the reason the H.O.J. foundation over the years sought out funds and grants. The foundation is in discussions with some countries to seek a way to empower the less privileged. Ali Baba Group is also coming in as sponsors; constituency funding will also be appropriated in the budget.”

In addition, Mazi Chuks Sunday Nwosu, the S.A. media to Hon.Okey Joe, said this year’s theme, ‘COUNT ME IN’ is created to encourage the inclusion of women in male-dominated sectors of society. Calls on the Nigerian government to acknowledge women politically, hence corroborating the need for inclusive governance. Advise men to encourage their wives, sisters, and friends in their career paths. Women also need huge grants to do their businesses, and neglecting women could be a problem as they are the forerunners of the home, he said.

Mrs. Uchenna, the convener of the International Women’s Day programme for the H.O.J. Foundation, stated that the theme of 2024 event, ‘COUNT HER IN’, is to encourage women to take up the challenge to achieve their aspirations in male-dominated sectors, thereby promoting gender equality in the society. She noted that HOJ has achieved a lot in the few years of its existence, having trained over 20 women in make-up, catering, web design, and graphics. Empower them with laptop tools for work as well as start-up capital for the commencement of their journey as entrepreneurs. It reveals that the foundation is neither tribalistic nor religious or background-based, but for all. Every woman should be financially independent to enhance family wellbeing.

Mazi Ikechukwu Orji, the Executive Director of the H.O.J. Foundation, added that the main aim of the foundation is to empower women, youths, and everyone in the society to become successful as the government can’t get to everyone, a way of giving back to society. As such, women are very important to societal growth and development;  empowering them makes the world a much better place.

A special guest of honour at the HOJ annual celebration of International Women’s Day, Aisha Yesufu, spoke on the need for women to achieve their dreams despite societal disparities. She gave an insight on the challenges faced in life during the course of getting an education but succeeded immensely. Aisha told women on the occasion to make a list of goals to achieve, irrespective of perceived challenges, portray humility and respect in all spheres of life. Advise women to uphold their dreams and aspirations, be a support system in the home, be independent, and shun being stay-at-home mothers without financial independence.

Other keynote speakers include Mrs. Toluwani Kennedy Jinadu, who elaborated on the need to empower women to enhance the drive for gender equality; Dr. Chioma Emma Nwachukwu, who also educated the audience on “Taking care of your health through a modified lifestyle,”  Claribel Tabansi Ekhator, and Adebisi Atewologun.

Awardees at the event also include: High Chief (Sir) Ifedi Jellily Chukwuhumeyan, Head of Corporate Marketing & Export Marketing Manager of SoulMate Industries Limited; Chief Amb. Dr. Prophet Monday Akunna Ukwa-Achinaka Ihitenansa, Executive Chairman, Greenfield Estate CDA; Abioma Evelyn Agoziem; Comr. Bolaji Belinda Bayode; Humphrey Erumaka (Journalist);.

One of the sponsors of the HOJ Foundation Chief Efedi Jellily Chukwuhumeyan, Head of Corporate Marketing and Export Marketing Manager of SoulMate Industries Limited, expressed appreciation for being honoured by the foundation, says the award reinstates his philosophy, which is; service to humanity. The multiple award-winning entrepreneur for his philanthropic prowess over the years said being supportive is not measured by monetary assistance alone but by the compassion shown to others to enhance and provide stability in their lives. Chief Ifedi noted that the recognition will further propel partnership commitments to the HOJ Foundation to champion its course.

Hon. Thaddeus Attah, honourable member representing Etiosa, commends the efforts and achievements of the HOJ Foundation founded by his good friend and associate, Hon. Okey-Joe Okey, to better the lives of people. He said he observed that scholarships were given to aspiring web designers, cheques of N100,000 each as the start of capital for graduating trainees, laptops and other generous donations made by special guests to beneficiaries of the foundation. He says the act is a welcome development in the structuring of the female gender towards achieving equality in the society. Advises women to believe in themselves and get involved in sectors dominated by men despite challenges and opposition.

The highlight of the event is the presentation of cheques, laptops, and monetary donations to beneficiaries of the HOJ Foundation.

Testimonials and appreciation from beneficiaries:

Bello Suliat Adebimpe, a website student, expressed gratitude and appreciation to the HOJ Foundation for successfully completing the fully funded programme as she sets out to break barriers by joining the tech world. She said her dreams have become a reality through empowerment by the foundation.

Bello Mariam learned make up from the HOJ array of sponsorship programmes and attested the training process has been inspiring. She’s anticipated saving to achieve her dreams but couldn’t until she got to discover the foundation, expresses gratitude.

Justina Egwenagu shared her discoveries from the fully funded catering programme under the H.O.J. Foundation, said she learnt the importance of taking the cost of pastries and the need to check the market prices of commodities before taking on a job. Appreciates the HOJ Foundation for empowering her to be a certified caterer ready to make an impact in the world of entrepreneurship.

The origin of celebrating ‘International Women’s Day’.

International Women’s Day first took place on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. Clara Zetkin proposed the celebration of International Women’s Day every year in every country to press for their demands. In 1975, the United Nations recognised International Women’s Year and began celebrating March 8 as International Women’s Day to honour the achievements of women and promote women’s rights.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is a day of unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action and is celebrated in many countries worldwide.

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Every year, this day serves as a powerful reminder of the progress made towards gender equality and highlights the work that still needs to be done to inspire our women to be counted.



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