Breaking gender barriers through education – UN

Roseline Adewuyi is a fervent advocate for gender equality in Nigeria, driven by a passion for dismantling entrenched gender stereotypes. She spoke to Africa Renewal’s Kingsley Ighoboron the need to empower girls through education. This is in line with the African Union’s theme for 2024: Educating and skilling Africa for the 21st Century.

Roseline Adewuyi

Roseline Adewuyi

Roseline Adewuyi believes that fighting gender inequality requires raising awareness and empowering young women and girls through education.

“My goal is to help break those barriers that limit our potential,” she told African Renewal in an interview. “I am talking about issues related to land rights, access to education, economic empowerment, leadership, and trust me, gender discrimination.”

Gender discrimination, she explains, is heightened during times of severe economic constraints such as now, when the tendency is often to invest in boys over girls. “That’s when parents often choose to send their sons to school or provide them start-up funding for business ventures, while daughters are expected to focus on house chores and wait for marriage. It’s absolutely absurd.” she insists. 

Roseline has her work cut out for her. “We are constantly finding ways to help women and girls break free from these constraints.” 

She founded the Ending Gender Stereotypes in Schools (ENGENDERS) project, which is dedicated to unlearning gender stereotypes in educational institutions.

“We reach the students, boys and girls in high schools and universities, and we do community engagement, speaking to parents and other influential community inhabitants,” she explains.

Already, she claims to have reached tens of communities and over 6,000 young girls through seminars and webinars, while her blog, featuring over 300 articles on gender equity, has garnered a wide audience.

Currently pursuing a Ph.D. in French Literature with a focus on women, gender, and sexuality studies at Purdue University in Indiana, US, Roseline now aims to merge academic rigour with passionate advocacy.

“It’s an interesting intersection,” she says, adding that “The body of knowledge that we pass on to future generations is full of gender stereotypes. Our books need to be gender conscious.

“In most African literature, characters often depict women or girls as housemaids and men as pilots or engineers. It reinforces stereotypes; we need to root it out,” she stresses.

Roseline’s journey into gender advocacy began in her childhood, fueled by a belief in the transformative power of education. She recognized the systemic challenges faced by African women and girls, including limited access to education and entrenched cultural biases.

“When I served as a prefect in secondary school, the belief among boys and even some girls was that I did not merit the position, that leadership was reserved for the boys. That experience sparked my curiosity as to why girls weren’t perceived as equally competent as boys.”

In 2019, she worked as a translator and interpreter for the African Union (AU), having been selected as one of 120 young people from various African countries to participate in the AU Youth Volunteer Corps. 

Her exposure to continental leaders’ efforts to address gender-related challenges reinforced her conviction that gender equality is essential for achieving sustainable peace and security.

“At the AU, I also realized the connection between gender and peace and security. When there is a crisis, it is women who suffer the most. Therefore, women must be at the centre of efforts to achieve peace in our societies,” she adds.

Her international exposure includes being a participant in the Young African Leaders Initiative in 2016 (YALI – Regional Leadership Center West Africa), as well as being a Dalai Lama fellow in 2018. She says these experiences exposed her to gender best practices and strengthened her resolve to advocate for change in her home country.


Although some advances have been made in gender equality in Nigeria, Roseline highlights that the remaining hurdles include challenges in female land ownership, financial inclusion, and access to education.

“For example, we have laws [in Nigeria] that provide for women’s rights to land, but many communities still prevent them from owning a piece of land. We also have situations in which widows are not allowed to inherit the properties of their husbands. 

She says: “So, we have a lot more work to do. We need effective community engagement in raising awareness among women about their rights.

“Importantly, we need to provide women with access to education to equip them with the knowledge and skills to assert their rights effectively.”

In her ongoing advocacy work, she acknowledges facing cyberbullying, which she attributes to resistance from elements of a patriarchal society reluctant to embrace progress.

Roseline’s final message to young African women and girls is for them to drive positive change, stand up for their rights, and challenge gender norms.

Breaking gender barriers through education – UN

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