Deputy Chief of Mission Maria Brewer’s Brief Remarks Celebrating Women History Month 2016 Theme: Education and Entrepreneurship (March 23, 2016)

(As prepared for delivery)

As part of the U.S Mission to Nigeria’s series of activities to commemorate Women’s History Month 2016, I have the pleasure of opening up today’s event organized by the U.S. Embassy’s EducationUSA Advising Center.

Women’s History Month accentuates the contributions of women in society, and today’s program is one the many ways we are supporting Nigerian women in their efforts to reach their full potential.  The government of the United States is committed to supporting the education of Nigerian girls and the empowerment of young women in the economic life and civil society of every Nigerian community.  Research backs up what we all know: when women are actively engaged, communities are more peaceful and more secure, families are healthier, economies grow faster, and governments are more accountable.

This afternoon, we are delighted to welcome Onyeka Onwenu as our guest speaker to focus on “Empowering Women through Education and Entrepreneurship.”  She is the former executive director of the National Centre for Women’s Development, a Nigerian singer/songwriter, actress, journalist, politician, and “X Factor” series judge.  Onyeka has a B.A. in international relations and communication from Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts and a master’s degree in media studies from The New School for Social Research in New York City.

Onyeka Onwenu will be sharing her unique experiences with you today to inspire you to improve your lives and your country by supporting the values of education and entrepreneurship.  She will also share her experiences as an alumna of Wellesley College.

I strongly encourage you to express your thoughts and dreams during the question and answer forum and share your vision of how to assist all Nigerian women to reach their goals.  It will be the determined efforts of young Nigerian women like you who make the difference.

As former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “If women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish.  If women are free from violence, their families will flourish.  If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish.  And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish.”

I know all of us have dreams about the future, and I hope today’s program will help inspire you to dream big.

Thank you.