Why male empowerment is more urgent now - Chisom
Jennifer Chisom Opara, popularly called Jenny Chisom for short is a blogger, self-styled men empowerment advocate and social media influencer. With over 10 years blogging experience, she shares her experience in being a successful blogger, and why men should be empowered and spoken for. Excerpts:
Of particular interest has been your blogging and online business. Why do you first identify as a blogger?
I’m happy that you are curious about that. First, being a blogger or identifying as one is the capsule-career that explains most of my skills set as a professional. By that I mean I am skilled in PR, photography, social media marketing, social media management, content creation, SEO, online business execution and possibly, an author and a speaker. I forgot to mention graphic designer too.
So that will be my first reason for proudly identifying as a blogger. Secondly I will say, it is one career path that I have been able to apply all of my previous full time job experiences to, having worked as a media editor and quality control officer in a magazine and TV production company, a data capture staff and risk management officer in a pension company, worked as a security guard in a telecoms company, a corporate communications director in a not-for-profit organization and as a director of operations in a charity among others.
As a blogger, I am able to see beyond blogging and wield its influence to do much more. Thirdly, it also open doors for me. I mean have worked as a contract blogger and social influencer for organisations like the UN, Voices 4 Change, NEITI, UFUK dialogue, Post Office, Union Bank, to mention but a few, I can only be glad. And it truly inspires people when they know you are a blogger who is changing her world. I have also won multiple awards for my work.
It seems everyone has a blog these days, how are you able to use it as an empowering tool?
I agree about all the blogs that exist. It’s even more than you may probably know. There are millions and millions of blogs. But you know, only very few people identify as bloggers and go the extra mile to do the work; and trust me, it is a lot of work that requires vision, planning, execution, team work, and you need money to run ads, design graphics, get tools and more as well plan content and much more.
The power and authority that blogging has given me, made me know that I have not even started. So, if I really start working much harder or better still smarter, a blog can open intercontinental doors and it is opening already with my new niche, which is focused on empowering and developing men in areas of life and relationships. I usually say that if bloggers especially in Africa were more conscious of their impact, Africa can rise in development even faster.
It is interesting to know about your focus on men’s development and your advocacy for empowerment of men. What inspired that?
My inspiration for men development came from way back as a teenager. I just had an uncanny curiosity to know why men were raised differently and also why their ideology about life differed from us as women or females.
That curiosity led me into a few life decisions that guided me to towards striving to understand them and especially the things they hardly say. That curiosity grew to empathy and led me on the path of research and then I was blessed to also be co-opted into being a research champion for the first landmark research titled “Being a Man in Nigeria” by the Voices for Change organisation, and that empowered me to step out with my first project for men.
Prior to that I once had a men’s support group online in 2012 but shut it down. I finally went full scale with the “League of Extraordinary Men” now rebranded “The Men Code movement” in October 2016.
My major challenge is to drive society to see that the continuous neglect of empowering men and boys with the right life skills and orientation will make society even more dangerous to live in. We already are faced with the challenge of prisons overflowing with males, drug abuse highest with males, homelessness common with males, unreported abuse of all sorts majorly affecting males, depression and suicide is mostly by males and more…the idea is, if women and children will still live with or under the care of a man, either as a boyfriend, lover, father, son, husband, then men are important.
I also saw the gap that an erroneous ideology created – That ideology is that men and boys are empowered from birth and the women and girls are marginalised. That is so false and if it contains any shade of truth at all, society would have been better. We won’t have so many fatherless children, husbandless women, broken homes, suicidal men and we would realise how the negative patriarchy system has also affected men, as well as women and children.
So far, what has been the response of men and how has the impact been?
Let me illustrate it this way. You know that feeling you have walked under the scorching sun, sweaty and craving drinking water, then you get handed not just a cup of water but a cold one, that is how metaphorically most men who encounter my blog or my campaign heaves a sigh of relief.
In fact, they tell me “madam, where have you been?” “Thank you for speaking up for us” in those lines. I hear those expressions every week realistically, and that encourages me to push on. Of course, a few men are usually edgy at first, more like, “ehen women that always blame men, what has she got to say this time?”
But soon after they get acquainted with my mission, they become evangelists and open up on issues most times they had never told anyone, not even their best friends. These issues when tackled usually set them on the path of progress. The impact has been great, as more men are learning that there is strength in vulnerability with trusted people, in seeking help and finding their life’s purpose.
Can you tell us more about the Men Code Movement?
The Men Code movement is a support group for men who are interested in becoming better versions of themselves as humans first, then as role model men. They learn, share, ask questions, support one another and we bring mentors and coaches to help in classified issues just like what is happening now as we are in the middle of an online summit.
For me, it is a platform for grooming men who will mentor boys and younger men across the world especially Africans using their personal success stories. The movement redefines success and drives an ideology that is documented in a book that inspired it, called; The Men Code: 12 Empowering Affirmations for Living Without Regrets. It is a book written by me and from the feedback since it became available online in 2018, it is a life saver!
What should men expect when they join this movement?
When men get in touch either through getting the book, or reading my blog or joining the online movement, they will get support in any area because we have almost 600 men now from diverse careers, marital status, tribes, nationality and with lots of varied experiences. So they can feel free to know that any challenges they have is common to the men they meet especially in the men code so it becomes mentally easier for them to cope and thrive with the help they get.
They also have access to mentors and coaches. I run specialized coaching sessions on wealth creation orientation, relationship re-engineering as well as online business startup. That they also get access to.
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