Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Strength of the Nigerian Women: 50 Nigerian Women Celebrated as The Nation Turn’s 50

Under the Women for Change Initiative, The 50@50 Project was launched in grand style in Abuja, Nigeria August 25, 2010. The goal: As the nation turn’s 50, The Project celebrated 50 incredible Nigerian women who have had an impact on this dynamic nation of 150 million strong. The First Lady of Nigeria, Dame Patience Jonathan, is the Grand Patron of the Project, and I served as the Goodwill Ambassador bringing a global touch to a wonderful event. The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Iyom Josephine Anenih oversees the First Lady's Women for Change Initiative. Nigerian women past and present – trailblazers in finance, the private sector, government, the arts, agriculture, education, and development - were all honored for their indelible mark on the nation that plays host today to nearly 75 million women – half of the country’s population, the 9th largest female population in the world (see population figures at All 50 women have left their mark on Nigeria and the women in Nigeria today stand on their shoulders as they continue to push for equality in all sectors of Nigerian life, particularly in government. The 50@50 Project will begin a global tour to 4 continents showcasing the Nigerian woman through a documentary, coffee table book, exhibition, Green Ribbon Youth Movement -- all with the 50@50 logo unveiled August 25 by Nigeria's First Lady. The global tour will end where it began in Abuja just before the eve of the country's 50 birthday,which is October 1. It was such a powerful event attended by not just Nigerian women, but women from all over the globe. The import of this event was clear and I dedicate the following Ode to the incredible talent, integrity, commitment, and love of country which are the hallmarks of the Nigerian woman:

Ode to the Nigerian Woman
Written By Dr. Robin Renee Sanders - U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria

“The Heritage Within”
Walk with me today, together down the ancestral path to see who we are as women

There is a spirit we cannot touch but always know is there – It is the "Heritage Within"

Our role is the foundation of life; our role is the foundation of change

We see our strength in the eyes of our mothers as they too have journeyed down the same ancestral path

The journey is about traditions, like 3-legged wedding pots, Uli signs, adire and ashoke cloth, henna designs, life, and certainly about long talks into the night as deep as indigo blue.

But, just like us, their lives made a difference, their contributions made an impact; their dedication to their nation allows you to stand on their shoulders today

Thus as Women for Change you will continue your journey down the ancestral path to your future, to Nigeria’s future

Remember you have a responsibility to the next generation to make a difference, to leave a mark, to make a change …just as your mothers did before you …and your grandmothers before…

Life is a journey and you have come so far, let’s walk the rest of the way together, hand-in-hand, spirit-connected-to-spirit, so that the changes we all seek come from….
The Heritage Within!

First published August 25, 2010