Nigeria’s Oluwaseun Osowobi has scooped the overall prize of the 2019 Commonwealth Young Person of the Year, in recognition of her efforts to end sexual violence.
A ceremony was held on Wednesday at the Commonwealth’s headquarters in London, where Ms Osowobi and three other exceptional young people from India, the Solomon Islands and Saint Lucia also won prizes.
The Nigerian and the other winners shared a £12,000 grant for their innovative projects, according to a statement by Snober Abbasi, Assistant Communications Officer for the Commonwealth Secretariat.
She also emerged The Commonwealth Youth Awards regional winner for Africa and Europe, with her project focus on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Gender Equality.
A survivor of sexual violence herself, Ms Osowobi set up the ‘Stand to End Rape’ (STER) initiative.
She set up the service to offer support to women, men and young people who have experienced any form of gender-based abuse in Nigeria.
STER trains healthcare workers how to deal with survivors and provides them with free health kits such as HIV tests.
Speaking at the awards, she said: “I dream of a future where this work is not required. I dream of the day when sexual violence is completely eradicated from this world.”
Ms Osowobi’s work has reached over 200,000 people providing pro-bono medical, legal, mental health, educational and empowerment services.
Padmanaban Gopalan, from India, won the regional category for Asia, and his project focused on SDG 2: Zero Hunger.
The Caribbean and Canada’s regional category was won by Johanan Dujon, from Saint Lucia, whose focus was on SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
For The Pacific region, Bobby Siarani, from Solomon Islands, emerged winner, with a project focus on SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, who presented the awards, said: “The pace, depth and scope of development in any society depend on how well its youth are nurtured and supported.
“This means providing the space for young people to thrive, to contribute and to realise their potential.
“In such an environment, they are able to exercise their rights and citizenship, and to find fulfilment and purpose; passing on to others the gains and positive values that come from the true community.”