Jennifer Amadi: Co-founder/Program Advisor Knit Together Initiative (KTI)
#SheInnovates Stories: Innovation is solving the world's problems. What problem are you solving?
Jennifer Amadi: Global health, with a focus on sexual, reproductive, and gender equality. These issues are rooted in the very core of our existence; with the potential to entirely disrupt how we best live, relate, fulfill our destinies, and maximize our potentials. Sexual and reproductive health is described as the constellation group of methods, techniques and services that contribute to health and well-being, by preventing and solving reproductive health challenges; while gender equality simply removes barriers to rights and opportunities. From where I stand, I see these [issues] intersect across all other issues in the world. From both personal experiences and body of evidence, therefore the basis for my inspiration, to contribute to making the world better.
I love technology, it just makes my work easier. It gives me leverage to expand my work from one location to different geographies. Importantly, it gives me room to directly engage with those who have the power, responsibility, and influence to make decisions and policies. My first magic moment with technology was galvanizing support for the passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill via an online campaign. Ever since, I have continued to use innovation to influence strategic actions. Expanding awareness on family planning (contraception) information and services; educating the public on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); advocating to decision makers on the domestication of Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 at a state level; creating visibility by highlighting achievements of young people in Africa who are working to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and lately advocating for the review and implementation of the Nigerian model of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), and Family Life and HIV/AIDS Education curriculum (FLHE).
#SheInnovates: When did you realize your innovation was a breakthrough?
JA: Sometime in 2015, when the former president Dr. Ebele Goodluck Jonathan appended his signature on the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill, I realized how useful I had been. I grew more radiant because I knew the implication of such a robust, gender positive piece of legislature for the well-being of girls and women in Nigeria. Also, being referred to as “the girl with the information on family planning” is something that I appreciate every day. I see myself as central to people’s healthy and rational population choices and actions.
#SheInnovates: What were some unexpected obstacles you overcame in the innovation process?
JA: I had the belief that when a person decides to make a positive impact in society, people would naturally lay out opportunities for them to do so. But this precious belief of mine failed me. Getting opportunities was one thing I struggled with. I knew I had what it takes to do what I wanted, yet I had to find opportunities through the eye of a needle. Being a Women Deliver young leader has changed the narrative, and provided a career navigation path for me which I am so grateful for. Access to tech tools was another obstacle, but through the #StoriesOfAdvocacy grant, I now have a tool to support my work.
#SheInnovates: What inspires you to love your work?
JA: The prestigious 120 Under 40 Award - New Generation of Family Planning Leaders, hosted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, in partnership with Bayer Pharmaceuticals, is a sign of my most accomplished work with innovation in family planning.
#SheInnovates: What do you hope that young women coming behind you take from your work?
JA: Intentionality is the key word. Like I always say to my younger colleagues, find out what it is you like to do and pursue it with all you’ve got—energy and passion.
#SheInnovates: Why are women in innovation important?
JA: Women are human beings, with the capability to effect change. However, through gender inequality, women disproportionately suffer the effects of all the world’s problems: war, climate change, poverty, etc. Their role in innovation becomes crucial to solving the issues that affect them, and also to removing all forms of injustice in leadership. Women’s involvement in innovation is about survival, sustainability, and prosperity.
Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length.