Passion for women, children, my driving force to serve – Adaora Onyechere

August 14th, 2018

A woman’s place has always been relegated to the kitchen and the other room. However, by virtue of their activism, advocacy and dexterity many women have proven that the womenfolk have much more to offer society. Adaora Onyechere, is one woman who has distinguished herself in her chosen profession, standing out as a beacon of hope to propel other women to take their rightful places in society, writes CHIKA OTUCHIKERE.

She is a celebrated face on television. Co-anchor of one of Nigeria’s longest serving and widely viewed television breakfast talk-show. Adaora Onyechere, is the gorgeous, vivacious and savvy- speaking co-anchor of ‘Kakaki,’ the brain-storming morning show on African Independent Television (AIT).

Many people who know this lady that has trendily warmed herself into the international celebrity circles, will however, describe her as a woman of so many callings. Chief among these is her passion for the womenfolk and the children.

Asked how she sees herself, the mother of a handsome young lad, readily replies, “I think that I am a mother to a lot of children. I say to myself and that is my goal. I tend to look at myself as the mother Theresa of Nigeria, having so many children that are not even born to you, but living your life for others and making sure that you create value for those you will leave behind, to be able to carry on the work”.
As a result of this propelling force and passion, Adaora created a foundation, Yellow Jerrycan Save a Child Foundation, to cater for the interest of the child and woman.

She says that she feels the pain and anguish of the child and woman in distress and misery, and the Foundation, for her, is an answer to bringing succour and comfort them.

Since the take-off of the foundation coincided with the advent of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp scattered across many states in the country, Adaora and her Foundation have been unrelenting, touching the lives of thousands of these displaced persons.

Apart from the Foundation, Adaora also champions an initiative which she uses to advocate for the welfare of women in a male dominated society such as Nigeria, called the “Gender Agenda Initiative.”{

The initiative centres mainly on empowering women and building their capacty to enable them compete favourably with their colleagues of the opposite sex.

Part of the clamour of the Initiative is to encourage women to participate actively in politics, not just as electorate, but contestants for elective offices.

According to her, one of the reasons for the seeming negligence of women in the country is the near passive attitude to vying for elective positions in the country.

She says this of the “Yellow Jerrycan Save a Child Foundation” and the “Gender Agenda Initiative”: “For over a while, I run an organization called, ‘Yellow Jerrycan Save a Child Foundation’ which has, over the years, been a platform with which we have been doing advocacy for women who are marginalized, especially in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp; women who have faced ethnic crisis, children without access to education and clean water amongst other things that plague women.

“’Gender Agenda Initiative’ was a journey that I began while hosting my show, ‘Gender Agenda’ on AIT and I realized that we have a lot of capacity building organisations that are gender friendly, but we don’t have a lot of content-field and platforms that are content-field for the benefit of the Nigerian women in Nigerian politics, and that has always being our problem.

“So, my creation of the ‘Gender Agenda Initiative’ is to bridge the gap between the voiceless Nigerian woman and the voiced Nigerians woman. To bridge the gap between mentors and mentee, to bridge the gap between capacity and content, bridge the gap between stereotyping and issues on gender mainstreaming.

“I think we’ve done a lot of narratives and conversations on gender mainstreaming. But like I said earlier, what is the basic simplification of gender mainstreaming?

“Let’s remove it from politics, let’s remove it from political participation and look at the issue of governance; influencing systems, policy literacy, women education; those are the key factors.

“When women are enabled, we will then gather the momentum to actually say that we deserve a place in government, and not that we should be given on tokenism but we’ll be given on meritocracy.

“And I think that is what is lacking. Women should go outside the box of seeking for numbers in politics and looking at policy literacy and creating enabling environment”.

Adaora has a lot of milestone to show for her efforts. She won the Best Act for Television Presenting and Creative Arts on Fresh Acts in London in 2004,without standing experience in both television and radio production in both the United Kingdom, and the West Midlands.

She has produced from children’s programs to science fiction screen adaptation, and was also the lead actress in ‘I FONLY,’ an educational screenplay on BBC dealing with cancer and infertility; developed independent real-time documentaries on the Asaba Massacre, and Mary Slessor on CHANNEL4 and on BEN TV London and is a talented Acrylic Artist.

She is also the vice president of The Apo Hills Diamond, an Ivy League branch of toastmasters international. A member of the board of the ‘I am Nigeria, Leadership for Africa, The-Not-too-Young-to Run amongst many others.

Adaora is also the Coordinator, Deep Talk, a Mentoring Group, which reaches out to young women between the ages of 15–35. She has won many awards in and outside the country. The United Women Association recently conferred on her the Female Role Model award of The Year, for her numerous papers on social innovation, policy development, implementation Strategies on Gender, IDPS and the physically challenged.

The television programme producer and presenter who has also been chronicled as amongst 100 Most Influential African Women in Nigeria and sub- Saharan Africa, with a meritorious recommendation by the United States Congresswomen board on advocacy for gender and human rights, disclosed that following her trailblazing activities of advocating for women and children, her Okigwe North Constituency in Imo State, has called on her to represent them in the Imo State House of Assembly come 2019, an invitation, she said, she has graciously accepted.

On women in governance, Adaora said: “For me, what I think, most objectively is that, I have always said that I am on a journey, a journey to see that tomorrow there are more Nigerian girls across board in leadership positions. We make up the largest population of the voting system and so, we should be given that authority to be able to decide policies that will affect us.

“I always say it’s not about the platforms, it’s about doing what you can from where you are, for whom you can and how you can. And until we’re able to remove the titular entitlements ideology of being a governor, of being a senator, this will help Nigerian girls to realise that they can be that governor because they are bringing more value and, if by so doing people call you to serve, then that means you have merited the service of the people.

“That means that they have seen you can do it and you can work the talk and so they will elect you into office but not the other way round. Women should be willing to serve, to pay the ultimate sacrifice of value and virtue, to know that leadership is a journey of experience, to see it work in real time so that people can say you deserve that position. So that people can say yes, she has enabled us and given us a larger scope in life, without this woman, you can’t see us here.”

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