• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Women empowerment would create just, equitable society for everyone – Igoni

Women empowerment would  create just, equitable society for everyone – Igoni

Anita Igoni is an entrepreneur, creative director, and event planner, widely recognized for her role as the CEO of Miss Africa International. With a passion for women empowerment, she has dedicated her career to supporting and uplifting women in Port Harcourt and across Nigeria.

Anita’s journey in entrepreneurship and event planning has been marked by creativity, innovation, and a deep commitment to showcasing the beauty and talent of African women. Through her work, she has created platforms that not only celebrate the achievements of women but also provide them with opportunities to thrive and succeed in various fields. In this interview, she speaks on the importance of women empowerment and how the ‘Miss Africa International’ which she founded has become a renowned platform for promoting culture, tourism and entrepreneurship amongst African Young women.

Tell us about the ‘Miss Africa International’ project which you founded and what inspired you to set this up?

Miss Africa International is a quintessential pageant that promotes culture, tourism and entrepreneurship amongst African Young women. It is born out of the passion to promote African culture to the rest of the world. Africa has a diverse culture and when I say Africa I mean every part of Africa from the small villages to big cities. Take for instance Nigeria, we have different beautiful cultures in this country from different tribes and ethnic groups and this is what we want to promote to the rest of the world. The world needs to see the beauty of this great continent. So, the pageant is promoting this culture, tourism and entrepreneurship among young African women.

My inspiration came from my belief that all citizens of the continent know the importance to be acquainted with the diverse culture and traditions of the African people and showcasing every aspect of our diversity for awareness. It is all the eagerness to promote African women in the most positive light.

What are some of the success stories you have recorded from the ‘Miss Africa International’ project?

Having hosted the maiden edition in La Palm Royal Beach Hotel Accra, Ghana it was a success and having the winner and her runners-up pursue their advocacies in their different region hereby empowering more women is a beautiful record for us and it gives me great joy and satisfaction seeing our winners take up projects that will impact other women in their immediate communities and around world.

Why the passion for women empowerment?

I know what it feels like to be struggling as a young girl with no assistance from anywhere. The world would be a better place and would be hope for all if there were more empowerment schemes for women. Like the saying goes ‘train a girl and you train a nation’. Women empowerment is crucial because it addresses systemic inequalities and biases that women face, such as limited access to education, healthcare, economic opportunities, and decision-making roles. Empowering women can lead to positive societal changes, including economic growth, improved health outcomes, and increased gender equality. Supporting women’s empowerment is not just about promoting women’s rights; it’s also about creating a more just and equitable society for everyone. I believe that empowering women will make the world a better and more productive place.

Take us through your journey into entrepreneurship and event planning and how these career paths have helped showcase the beauty and talent of African women?

I kicked off my brand as a pageant producer in 2016 when I produced my first event during my reign as Miss Tourism Nigeria, after my first pageantry, I got some jobs on event planning that I was able to handle ( birthdays, conferences, concerts, a pageant for other brands and weddings etc) this gave me a smooth transition into event planning and management; hence the brand Dollybirds Events came into light.

You have created platforms that not only celebrate the achievements of women but also provide them with opportunities to thrive and succeed in various fields. Kindly shed more light on some of these platforms.

We’ve had the QLOPHA (quintessential ladies of Port-Harcourt Awards) which celebrate the modern-day woman excelling in her different fields, the pageant platform has sprung out different advocacies and projects that have directly contributed to the development of the society. Sabi talent hunt and scholarship awards, free medical outreach, save a child, shoe a child, skill acquisition, recycling, pad up a girl child and many more.

How has your work inspired women to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact in their communities?

I have used pageantry as a tool to invest and empower young girls, by making available the tools and equipping them with funds and the platform to reach out to more people around their communities with their project/advocacies, thereby touching lives and empowering the next generation.

Who are some of the women that you draw inspiration from and why?

I draw inspiration from quite a number of women doing great things out there but I would point out Mo Abudu and Agbani Derego as they’ve been an inspiration to me as their career path is similar to mine. I also like what they’ve been able to achieve and do in their space regardless of any challenges that may have come their way.

Can you speak to the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, ‘Invest in women: Accelerate progress’?

This year’s them emphasizes the critical need to invest in women and girls to achieve gender equality and accelerate progress towards a more inclusive and sustainable world. Investing in women means providing them with equal access to education, healthcare, economic opportunities, and leadership positions. It also means challenging stereotypes and biases that hold women back and supporting initiatives that promote women’s empowerment and gender equality. By investing in women, we can unlock their full potential, drive economic growth, and build more resilient and prosperous communities. I love this year’s theme because it simply highlights the importance of recognizing the value and contributions of women and taking concrete actions to support and empower them.

What are the importance of empowering a girl child and what would be the ripple effects in society?

Some of the importance of empowering the girl child includes a decline in the poverty rate. When a girl child is empowered with education, it helps break the cycle of poverty. Also, when a girl child is empowered with healthcare they become more informed about healthcare practices, including reproductive health, leading to healthier families and communities. When girls are empowered economically, they can contribute to their household income, which can lead to poverty reduction and economic growth at the community level. In a nutshell, whatever you give to a female child she doubles it.

Any future plans for more women empowerment programs?

Yes we are always doing one thing or the other for the girl child from time to time. As time goes on we will be looking at sponsoring a girl child from secondary school to graduate level. We also wish to support more women financially to start a business and fend for themselves. There’s a whole lot of plan but it would be one step at a time.