Kingsley U N Chikwendu —
Convener of Black Diamond Support Foundation (BDSF), Defunke Adewumi, is advocating increased female ownership of landed properties.
Adewumi said certain institutional, religious and cultural bias continue to impede and stagnate the holistic growth, development and transformation of women and girls in Nigeria.
“Many times, when faced with challenges, women and girls do not know where to turn but, with a mission to impact women in the society, especially those in indigent communities, who have become homeless due to domestic violence, I have strategically positioned an empowerment initiative to bring succor for these women, she revealed”.
To address the challenge of women’s right to own or control landed properties, she set up an all female real estate firm. The company is aimed at providing an investment scheme for victims of domestic violence, widows and single mums across the country for shared prosperity.
She further disclosed that her plan to provide shelter for homeless victims of domestic violence, the empowerment of widows and single mums across the nation made her establish a Non Governmental Organization (NGO).
Recently, she became a real estate investor with her newly founded Queen’s Estate Initiative, the first of its kind,a female-owned estate in Africa. A platform she hopes will empower and encourage women to prioritize real estate.
Adewumi stressed her passion for women’s empowerment and financial liberty.
She created the room for women to thrive through her initiative “UNMASKED” – that allows women to be free and be themselves, without the fear of being judged or condemned.
“I ventured into real estate because of my keen interest is to empower women and see them grow in all ramifications, she continued.
“I noticed that most women help their men to acquire estates but, they don’t own one themselves due to cultural bias and the notion that it’s a man’s job to invest, based on the tradition, it’s the duty of a man to make adequate provision for the family and not the woman.”
“Having conversed with women from various works of life, I have come to realize that not many women invest in real estate, which is a very strong investment asset.
“Although, women are naturally gifted with saving for the rainy day rather than investing which has long term returns.
“Also,some African traditions do not allocate any inheritance to a female child. Therefore, some women do not think it appropriate to own a property.
“In a world where we preach about equality between men and women, having a real estate in your name as a woman is a big feat. We need to move into that sector vigorously as women. Real estate is also a very lucrative investment that can help a woman be financially independent and grow her wealth.
“I must give a special shout-out to Dr. Ibrahim Adekunle Israel, CEO of EverMark Homes and Properties, he has been our knight in shining armor, supporting the vision of the Queens Estate project greatly. He has been instrumental in all the necessary documentation processes to secure the properties. He stood with us through thick and thin and we are eternally grateful”.
Adewumi added that the foundation stands as a support, voice, strength and defense for the helpless.
“In the last 10 years we have been able to rehabilitate and empower over 2,700 vulnerable women. We have ensured that we look out for women in all spheres of life, from sensitization against abuse to sheltering victims, raising their cases legally and getting justice for them, paying school fees for their children, that has been abandoned by their father, among others.
“As an initiative, we worked together with the governmental gender-based support offices and sometimes other NGOs to achieve our aim. We are about to get a 50-bed space of Shelter for Domestic Violence Victims as a temporary abode for them to stay while they find their feet.
“This means that women don’t have to stay in domestic homes just because they don’t have a place to go, also ensuring that women have something to do, we notice that women who are financially dependent on their spouses have a greater tendency to be abused physically, emotionally and financially.”
Adewumi pointed out that this is an important time to empower women,in the real estate industry, educate, mentor and support other women, to build up each other’s confidence to achieve higher echelons in the industry.
She emphasized the need to shatter the glass ceiling though it could be difficult,” we need women investing in property through investment groups or as individuals. The generations of women on the housing ladder are still very low. So, what makes women less inclined to own homes or land yet it is one of the most valuable family assets?
“Women are not active in the property market.though married women are the largest owners of homes while unmarried women are the least.But even married women who own property are in co-ownership with their husbands. Among these, the property is often registered under someone else’s name. Meanwhile, only minimal percent of women own a title deed
“Whether it’s working as a single mother, building self-confidence alongside male colleagues, or ascending the ranks at a male-dominated brokerage, there are many challenges that should bring women together,she pointed out.
Explaining the challenge they faced during the Estate acquisition, she said: ” I almost gave up. It was extremely stressful at all ends.
Women in leadership roles can influence change in the industry if they have the right empowerment.
On the documentation process, I would ensure it’s easier for everyone. The bureaucracy around it is extremely herculean and stressful. I hope there will be a policy to make it seamless for everyone.
“With the 2023 International Women’s Day (IWD) campaign theme ” Embrace Equity”women need to be encouraged. I have always been a preacher and an ambassador of equity and equality. I have used my voice to influence equity within my sphere. I have been known to challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion.
“Engaged in collaborative activism is what propels transition. From grassroots effort to broad-scale rate, we can all embrace equity. Generating gender equity isn’t limited to women just fighting the good fight. Partners are incredibly important for the social, economic, cultural, and political betterment of women. Everyone everywhere can play a part.
Adewumi advised President-elect, Ahmed Bola Tinubu to implement practical and functional poverty alleviation schemes.
“We had Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution, Better Life for Rural Women, and Family Economic Advancement Programme but lack of proper accountability and regulatory factors affected the impact.
“I would suggest the appointment of credible technocrats such as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the late Dora Akunyili, and many more.
There’s an urgent need to solve poverty problems in Nigeria. Many Nigerians have lost hope in the ability of the Nigerian economy to guarantee their sustenance and means of survival. That is why many people particularly the youth are leaving the country in droves.
“Nearly everyone is becoming poorer in Nigeria since the inception of the immediate administration in 2015. Inflation has increased drastically from single digits in 2015 to about 22 % – 100% in 2023. Real wages have fallen. The exchange rate has depreciated. We need a better livelihood to survive in this country.
“Yes, we are planning to get our Charity Complex that will house all we do in Black Diamonds Support Foundation. We are on the hunt for that already and looking for funds to actualize that goal.
“However, free medicals and empowerment for people living in the slums and abject poverty. Project 5,000 will happen also this year as we stopped it for three years due to COVID-19.
“For Unmaskedhertruth, we are acquiring more Estates and two more trade fairs for 2023. We hope to go to one West African country for a tour, empowering our women and lots more. So much to do this year, I’m excited already.
“God’s factor is key in my life because I sincerely don’t know how I do these things. I’m a perfectionist and handling so many things at the same time is by God’s Grace.”
She shed light on domestic violence on women and narrated how pained she was and almost gave up fighting for justice in 2018 after she lost a 13 year old girl to sexual and domestic abuse.
“Her name was Ochanya, and she died a few days after her case was reported to me and this broke me. We could not do much for her justice but all efforts were not in vain though”, she said.