Nigeria’s Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, founder of the Stand To End Rape – S.T.E.R initiative has been named Commonwealth Young Person of the Year on Wednesday at Marlborough house, the Commonwealth Secretariat’s London headquarters.
The S.T.E.R initiative came to life following Osowobi’s ordeal as a survivor of sexual violence. The initiative is primarily centered on providing support to women, men and young people who have experienced any form of gender-based abuse.
Osowobi, was first a Regional Winner for Africa and Europe for Excellence in Development work in SDGs: Gender Equality, receiving a prize of £5,000 which she aims to devote into expanding her activities in Nigeria.
She was selected from a pool of 16 panelists and four regional winners. More than 500 people from across the Commonwealth nations were nominated for the award.
Congratulations to @AyodejiOsowobi for being named the #Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2019!— Commonwealth Youth (@ComSecYouth) March 13, 2019
Oluwaseun is from #Nigeria and is the founder of the @StandtoEndRape initiative.#CommonwealthYouth #CYA #CYA19 pic.twitter.com/JO5pKsEN3G
The award was presented to Owosobi by the Commonwealth Secretary-general Patricia Scotland.
While accepting the award, she said,
This award reminds me that when young people don’t look away in the face of injustice, and say ‘no’ to cultural biases, we have the capacity to create change because we are magic.
Winning this award encourages me to keep working hard to build a safe community for women, girls and men in Nigeria and that my story is valid.
To my team and I, the award is a reminder that our work is seen, felt and should not stop now.
Our organisation provides medical, legal, mental health and psychosocial support, and empowerment services – depending on the requirement. In certain instances, we provide shelter access and financial support to survivors.
Having experienced sexual violence myself, I understand the cultural barrier of speaking up, and the lapses or lack of services available.
This award is a reaffirmation that elimination of sexual violence in Nigeria and other Commonwealth Countries is important and a core agenda of the Commonwealth Secretariat as we work towards achieving a ‘Connected Commonwealth’.