Oluwadamilola Akintewe

Ondo, Nigeria

Oluwadamilola  Akintewe

Oluwadamilola grew up in poverty in an area of Nigeria plagued by social problems. Her father was a farmer who had had to give up on university to provide for the family: their village had poor education provision and, due to the continual clashes between farmers and herders in the area, high rates of violence and kidnapping. As a result, Oluwadamilola went to live with a relative at age eight and became her sister’s unofficial guardian at 14. She also saw that the girls she was growing up around frequently had teenage pregnancies, and vowed that she would do all she could to change the narrative for women. With a scholarship from a national organisation, Zenith Club of Nigeria, she was finally able to study law at Adekunle Ajasin University.

As an undergraduate, she has dedicated the past 4 years of her life to social impact. She is the first female team leader of Enactus, a global community of students, business leaders and professionals who use entrepreneurship to impact lives – for instance by helping low-income single mothers build entrepreneurial and craft skills. She also founded Forbidden Topics, a campaign to break the silence about topics like sexual assault that often do not make it into the mainstream media. in Nigeria, news outlets generally only report sexual assault cases when the victim is dead, and living victims of sexual violence are discouraged from reporting it due to a victim-blaming and purity culture. In just a year, she has built a 1000+ community on social media and shared stories of women and girls from 25+ countries.

Despite hardships, Oluwadamilola has always maintained academic excellence. She was the first Arts student in a decade to be appointed a Senior Prefect (equivalent of student body president) at her school. She revived the school’s debating and press clubs, leading them to numerous wins and finishing as valedictorian (highest-performing student). At her university, she currently remains near the top of her class with a 4.3 CGPA. In 2020, she was the youngest person to make the list of Top 100 Women creating a better Africa; in 2021, she was recognised as one of 30 under 30 global changemakers by Opportunity Desk, and won the inaugural Samantha Singh Award essay for young people aspiring to careers in development policy. 

If Oluwadamilola is successful in winning the Global Student Prize, she would use the money to fund her postgraduate professional training in Law School, so that she can do pro bono work for victims of sexual violence when she is eventually able to practise as a lawyer. She will also be able to register Forbidden Topics as an NGO and fully set up its social enterprise aspect – a statement clothing line – using a percentage of the proceeds to better the lives of women and girls in rural communities of Nigeria and beyond.