By: Linda Orajekwe
Chinyere Eze is the founder of Breaking Boundaries, an NGO established to create a platform for women to become their best selves, and combat patriarchy in Nigeria. In a recent chat, Mrs Eze, talked about her upcoming project, Honey Bee and all she is uncovering running a woman-based network.
What influenced you to set up the breaking boundaries initiative?
Breaking Boundaries began as a means to fight an oppressive system. From having conversations with women, I realized that we were not only experiencing the same issues that prevented our success in many aspects of life, but also, there wasn’t a lot being done to fix or prevent this. I founded Breaking Boundaries because, women needed a platform that would actively combat patriarchal and misogynistic issues
How has it been running the NGO?
It has been a great experience. My team and I have put in a great deal of thought, effort, into the running of the NGO, and planning our upcoming project. The dynamics of running a women empowerment NGO in Nigeria are not simple but the result is worth it.
What are some of the challenges faced so far?
Some of the challenges we experience include, staying inspired. There are so many obstacles that come into play when fighting a cause such as this, it is easy to sometimes feel discouraged. However, my team and I avoid this by remembering why we started this movement and how many women we can help. The thought of being able to change the circumstances of women in Nigeria makes these challenges dull in comparison.
How do you measure your impact?
I measure my impact by my ability to exact positive change in a girl or woman’s life. If I am able to show a young girl that she can be as successful as any man, by providing her with skills and encouragement to do so, then I would say I have made an impact. If I am able to help women work through psychological issues that come with domestic and sexual abuse, then I would say I have made an impact.
Considering the different networking and mentoring events happening in Nigeria, especially Lagos state, what’ll make The Honey Bee project different?
The Honey Bee Project is different because it is specifically tailored to foster conversations that are beneficial to women. The mentorship we are seeking to provide for the girls will promote their personal and career development, as well as build a community of women advocating for each other. Our event is also different because we have brought an element of modernity into it. Our mentors are all relatively young women for the level of success they have achieved. These women understand the challenges of being an ambitious woman in a male-dominated world and are eager to pave the way for younger women.
Considering how well you come in contact with women in your field, what are the most difficult women related issues you’ve had to deal with?
I would say the most difficult issue would be women not realizing their worth. As a result of the patriarchal world we live in. We have been conditioned to crave validation from men, and consequently, dim our shine to match what society thinks is appropriate. I believe this stops many women from reaching their full potential. It’s a process, I ensure that I am constantly unlearning patriarchal norms and invite the women around me to do so as well.
With what you do presently and have learnt with Breaking Boundaries, what would you do differently if you have the opportunity to go back in time?
It took a lot of deliberating to start Breaking Boundaries. If I had the opportunity, I would’ve started earlier.
Who are your greatest influences in life?
My greatest influences are my mum and two sisters. They are all exceptional people. They show me every day what it means to be a powerful woman. They are also very supportive of everything I do, which has played a huge part in the person I am now
Do you ever feel like giving up?
No, giving up is never an option for a cause like this.
With your experience running Breaking Boundaries, what advice can you give the young woman who feels she has no boundaries to break?
Every individual has Boundaries to break, man or woman. The advice I would give to any woman is to be completely and unapologetically yourself, and to fight for what makes them happy relentlessly.
What boundary do you look forward to seeing broken by a woman in this generation?
A female Nigerian president!