Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

Feminist Leadership Development

It is always  inspiring to hear from the AWLI alumni and how the training has enriched their personal and career aspirations through the years. In this month’s feature we bring you Grace Eshiet, a talented, very determined young lady, aspiring to be an African woman leader and a lover of justice. She shares her leadership journey as an AWLI alumnus.

The last of 9 children I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Calabar, the Cross River State capital in South-south Nigeria. I have worked as Coordinator, Special Projects for West Africa Network for Peacebuilding-Nigeria, for the past 7 years. I enjoy working with women and children in fractured communities, on HIV/AIDS in the workplace and Peace Education/Peer Mediation for Youths in formal Schools.

My AWLI Experience

The AWLI experience for me can be described as a smack on my person. It brought me face-to-face with who I am and where I am going to. The concept of POT (Personal Mastery, Organizing Skills and Taking Action enhanced my capacity to actualize my dreams and bring them to life in a manner I am comfortable with. It reinforced my resolve to plan my life, plan a future and work towards achieving my dreams.

I returned from AWLI rejuvenated and poised to take control of my life, love myself and do those things I love without meaning to please anyone except me. On the other hand, it strengthened my resolve to reach out to many, women and family members and to serve as a bridge to those that require my assistance-to keep my doors open for those seeking my attention.

I had a “To-Do” list before AWLI that was focused on enhancing my professional life. The AWLI experience provided a platform for me to look inwards, rediscover myself, and then develop a “To-Do” List for personal life. With the list, I analyzed my life pursuits, drew a road-map and an action plan for the rest of my life. It allowed me to place my interest and passion in the right perspective I now take each step at a time in life, to build my capacity on diverse fields like tourism, travels, aviation, and hospitality and in development work. I endeavor to add value and make myself relevant in any situation I find myself.

A journey of self rediscovery- A unique aspect of the AWLI

The personal empowerment which allowed for a rediscovery of Grace Eshiet was very unique. I was able to look inwards and rediscover who I am and to understand where I am going. My confidence rose and I developed more self-esteem after the training. This was exhibited in every aspect of my life, at home and in the office.

I also appreciated the issues women faced in forced migration situation which also enhanced my capacity to analyze women issues and design intervention processes. With my high self-esteem, I have more confidence to work with women as well as the ability to transfer my knowledge and skills and beef up their confidence as they face day-to-day challenges in life.

The way forward

I had set short, middle and long term plans after the training. Some I have met, some are modified while I still work on some. They included improving my wellbeing and impacting more on women which I have been able to do through the trainings organized by the Special Projects for West Africa Network for Peacebuilding-Nigeriain grassroots communities for women. The Action Plan I developed during the AWLI training provided a framework to design and live my life in accordance and to achieve more than otherwise. I consult it very often to analyze my progress, make adjustments and forge ahead. I also relate better with people and try to make myself relevant, a “can’t do without” in any team environment I find myself.

Any thoughts on enhancing the women’s movement

I believe in consolidation of the entire AWLI alumni to come together as a voice. The training has given rise to many women structures that if harnessed represents a strong platform to sustain advocacy that would contribute to addressing the emerging gender related technical issues.

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years from today?

I see myself in many places, but most importantly as a voice to reckon with and as a great African woman leader.

Which one thing would you want the world to remember you for?

Putting a smile on many faces, placing other peoples’ interest ahead of mine, for giving hope to the hopeless, for providing structures for the poor, deprave to seek redress and for healing fractured minds. I also want to be remembered as a happy person, who lived her life and lived it to the full.