Elizabeth Iweanoge is at the forefront of making sure women in her sphere of influence know their worth and are treated with dignity, equality and respect.
“I want to change the narrative so women can live above the limitations often placed on them by their communities and society at large,” Elizabeth told The Weight She Carries.
As a Nigerian interior designer, who runs her own company, and an activist passionate about women’s issues, Elizabeth embodies the dream so many young women have.
The daughter of a renowned pharmacist and a banker, Elizabeth was privileged to be born into a family that encouraged her to follow her dreams and be whomever she wanted to be. She excelled in her studies and earned a degree in philosophy and cultural studies.
Over 13 years ago, an interest in interior design was sparked.
“I love beautiful surroundings. Wherever I am, I always want to beautify the place,” she said.
This desire to improve her surroundings expands beyond her chosen profession. It troubled Elizabeth to see young women often being discouraged from pursuing certain career paths that were dubbed “men’s work”, and instead, told to aspire to be nothing more than good wives and mothers.
“I saw it around me – how women are being discriminated against culturally – and it bothered me,” she said.
“Many families do not pass on any land or property to the girl child. Everything goes to the sons in that family. Why? That is discrimination.”
As Elizabeth became more keenly aware of the disparities between the boy and girl child, she became more unsettled and resolved to make a difference by mentoring and counseling women using her social media platforms.
I asked Elizabeth to share some advice with our readers.
To single women:
Singleness is not a curse – life is all about what you think of yourself, and happiness comes from within. Give yourself that happiness before you look for another person to give it to you. Have an ideal list of the qualities you want in a partner, but in the meantime, work on yourself. When I talk to married women, I discover that many of the issues they are facing is because they didn’t prepare themselves properly while they were single.
Believe in yourself – decide where you want to be and work towards it. When you believe in yourself, the sky is your limit. It all begins with you, so never look down on yourself because you are single.
Build your confidence – One of the biggest hinderances for women is insecurities. Having low self-esteem and low self-confidence will keep you where you are. The idea that you should always be in someone else’s shadow because you are too insecure to step out and pursue your dreams is very wrong.
Gender-based violence is another issue Elizabeth is addressing. Her approach is to focus on the family unit and encourage communication and friendship between parents and children.
“Everything starts with family,” she said. “It’s the smallest unit. Before we go to the larger society and tackle national matters, we must begin by creating family environments where children feel comfortable talking to their parents. Your child should see you as their role model and you should instil confidence in them.”
Elizabeth also believes schools and religious institutions should have counselors who pay close attention to what’s going on in the environment around them. Once the girl child is allowed to thrive, we’ll see stronger communities and a better world.
“We don’t have to subscribe to traditional rules, laws and practices that stand in the way of gender equality is our society,” she said. “Every woman is entitled to her dream; she’s entitled to be whoever she wants to be. That is her birthright.”
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.