Sunday 7 January 2024

Purple Ball 2023

By Nwachukwu Nkem

Since 2018, Strong Enough Girls'​ Empowerment Initiative (SEGEI) has been working with Stephanie Apel as a Co-Convener of the Purple Ball, an event that brings women together to celebrate themselves and their achievements and also provide mentorship for each other. 

In 2023, the event followed the theme for the International Women's Day, Embrace Equity. This year, SEGEI partnered with Shades of Us Storytelling Initiative for African People (Shades of Us), Stand With A Girl Initiative (SWAG), Sustainable Impact and Development (SID) Initiative, and Anneozeng Ogozi Aid Foundation. 

The moderator, Linda Raji the program manager at Anneozeng Ogozi Aid Foundation welcomed the attendees and conducted the introductory session for all participants. 

Stephanie Apel who is the Co-covener of the Purple Ball gave the opening address on behalf of the team members and explained that the purpose of the event was for participants to 'learn, relearn and unlearn'. This was followed by the founder of SEGEI, Onyinye Edeh who explained the vision of SEGEI and gave a detailed history of how Purple Ball started in 2018. She explained that the big idea of the Purple Ball was for women to come together and celebrate trailblazers and their achievements and also create an avenue for young aspiring women to receive mentorship. 

The event started with an exciting knowledge trivia session on gender equality, women’s empowerment and the International Women’s Day. This was conducted by Queen Ugwoeru, the programs manager for SEGEI. 

The keynote address was given by Irene Ugbah, an educational consultant. She spoke on  embracing fairness in treating women. “Society has to ensure that women are given the tools they need to successfully bridge the gender gap in various areas of endeavour.” she mentioned. According to her, continual conversations must be had to address equity in all spheres of life. There must be a conscious effort to drive for more female representation in the tech space and this will start from enrolling more girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses. 

The keynote address was followed by a mentorship roundtable where the panellists shared defining moments in their lives and career paths. They also spoke about what skills women need to compete in the global space. Sadiya Ochekliye, a board Member and Technical Advisor at Shades of Us,  stated that women require resilience and strategic thinking as part of their skillset in whatever field they find themselves in. Another panellist, Funke Adeoye, stated that women need to do more networking and build social capital. A third panellist, Elizabeth Williams, emphasized the importance of having communication skills for women to be visible in the global space. The panellists also spoke about tackling gender bias in politics by utilizing women’s numbers, working at the grassroots, and emphasizing affirmative action.

Onyinye Edeh the founder of SEGEI showcased their achievements and accomplishments so far. These include:

  1. The newly revamped website.

  2. The expansion of SEGEI  to include 5 full time staff and over 15 volunteers.

  3. Educational sponsorships for 12 girls in secondary school and 5 women in universities across  Africa.

  4. Successfully received grants from UNESCO, USAID, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, AIDS healthcare foundation and the Nigeria Youth Futures Fund.

  5. Season 2 winner of the Pitch Family Planning Knowledge management competition

  6. Graduated over 50 African/Black women from the Evolve Mentorship Program

SEGEI’s Impact: 

  1. SEGEI is currently present in 4 African countries, in the United Kingdom and the United States.

  2. Sustained partnerships with government and civil society.

  3. 50+ communities reached.

  4. 10,000 women reached.

  5. Educational sponsorship for women and girls in secondary schools and universities across Africa.

Onyinye also spoke about the Evolve Mentorship Program (EMP0 which connects women within the ages of 18-35 with outstanding female mentors. The goal is to equip these women with the skills and knowledge they need to live healthy, productive lives. EMP is working to bridge the gaps that leave women in a disadvantaged position and help raise more women who are confident and can hold their own anywhere.

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