The founder of Exquisite Magazine, Mrs Tewa Onasanya is one of the champions for women empowerment in Nigeria.
Onasanya is also the founder of the ELOY Awards, and in this interview with Jerry Lenbang of 360nobs, spoke about the awards, her opinion on feminism and much more.
Read the interview below!
What prompted the creation of the ELOY awards?
The ELOY which is acronym for the Exquisite Ladies of the Year awards was started in 2009, when we at Exquisite magazine felt there was a big gap between men being honoured at award ceremonies and women being honoured. In fact there were no awards ceremony dedicated to women to show that women are also doing exceptionally well in different fields across Nigeria and beyond. Since we are a woman focused magazine, we decided go bridge that gap. We decided to be at the forefront, celebrating women of excellence in different fields. Our big aim, is to be able to motivate, empower and inspire women to be the best version of themselves, while celebrating them and encouraging others. We also use the ELOYs as a platform to continue to increase the awareness for cervical cancer.
The ELOY Awards currently recognizes women in mainly fashion and entertainment. How are you looking to inspire women in other fields?
The ELOY awards does not only recognize women in fashion and entertainment, we recognize ALL women in ALL fields. The ELOY awards is divided into two set, ones set of categories are nominated and voted for by the public and then looked at by the judges and the second set of categories are Recognition awards which we call the ladies who inspire awards. These Ladies who inspire awards span across all sectors of life, from ladies in agriculture to ladies in education, ladies in health, ladies in engineering, humanitarian and many more. The second set of categories are nominated for by the public and following our research, the judges deliberate and then choose winners to be recognised. In total we will be giving away 22 awards this year. 11 from the first category which include designers, entertainers, photographers and more and the other 11 for ladies who inspire in other fields that are not entertainment related.
With the awards currently in its 6th year, how happy are you with how far you’ve come, and what are your plans for the next 6 years?
Actually, we are in our 8th year. We held the first ELOYs in 2009 and this year will be the 8th edition. So far, we believe we have come a very long way and still have more grounds to cover. I mean each year, we give out 20 to 22 awards to women in different fields and we are sure there are so many other fields that need to be put in the limelight, so other ladies can know that they could do this or that if they wanted to. This is why, every year, we take some award categories out and replace with new ones that we identify. In one of the past years, we’ve nominated and awarded female Dj’s, ladies in sports and more. The ELOYs is now the most talked about award ceremony for women in Nigeria. Every year, ladies in Nigeria and away from Nigeria are looking to Exquisite magazine to see who will be nominated and awarded with an ELOY. Our plan for the next 8 years, we can only get better as the year progresses, we work to be better each year, make it more interesting, more appealing, more everything we can, to continue to make the ELOYs relevant and most sought after award for women. We plan to be able to continue to Celebrate, Empower, Motivate and Inspire (CEMI) all women through our CEMI honours and initiative.
You’ve stated in the past that you created Exquisite Magazine to “empower women”. Looking at Nigeria at a whole, is that an aim that has been achieved, or is there still much to be done?
There is still so much to be done. We are constantly thinking of and reinventing ways to keep empowering women. We are doing our bit at Exquisite magazine with the magazine itself and events and we do join forces with other companies to continue to do this. We are working on the fact that with our being consistent and determined, we will succeed. It has to be said as well that we can only do so much, hence joint effort by all is required to empower all women in Nigeria as a whole.
From Nigerian celebrities like Chimamanda Adichie to international stars like Beyonce, the word “feminism” has been thrown about a lot recently. What is your opinion and stand on feminism?
I think feminism means different things to different people. In as much as I advocate for women liberation and rights, I feel that, we as human beings are not equal, therefore I don’t want to be equal to a man or another women. I want to be treated the same though and fairly. I don’t want my rights as a human being questioned because I am a woman. I want to be treated the same as my male counterpart and female counterpart in the society. I strongly believe that we are all unique and different and we all bring different things to the table. What I do not want, is for the table to be divided and ruled unequally based on the fact that I’m a woman. We should all have the same rights and opportunities and most importantly everyone, male or female, know their place in the society and at home.
Pictures by Exquisite Magazine; Interviewed by Jerry Lenbang