7 June 2017
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has given a shout out to a U.S.-based Nigerian woman who is the administrator of a support network for women with more than 1 million members.
Zuckerberg met with Lola Omolola, who is based in Chicago, and praised her work in a message on Tuesday about Female IN (FIN), a secret Facebook group run by Omolola.
“It’s a no-judgement space where more than a million women come to talk about everything from marriage and sex to health issues and work problems—and it’s helping end the culture of silence that exists for women in some parts of the world,” said Zuckerberg.
The Facebook founder, who visited Nigeria in 2016, said that he looked forward to “meeting more admins like Lola” at the first Facebook Communities Summit, which is due to take place in Chicago later in June.
Zuckerberg said the summit would serve to help founders like Lola “do even more to build community.”
Omolola replied to Zuckerberg’s post, describing herself as an “ordinary woman from modest means” and saying that Zuckerberg’s platform had helped her “create the world I wish to live in and have my eight and 10-year-old inherit.”
Set up two years ago and originally named Females In Nigeria, FIN is a secret group, meaning that only group members—known as FINsters—can invite a new member to join. In a public video posted on the FIN Facebook page, Omolola said that the group was established as a “way to disrupt the status quo and change the landscape” in communities where women’s voices are not heard.
“I come from a community where lots of the time women have a lot to say, but we have been conditioned and we have been raised to keep silent, because someone is going to get embarrassed by something we say,” says Omolola in the video interview with Facebook’s diversity director, Maxine Williams.
Nigeria’s constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, but women in the West African country face a variety of problems, including fewer economic opportunities, domestic violence and a high maternal mortality rate in part caused by a lack of access to healthcare among women.
Nigeria is a highly religious country, split between a mainly Muslim north and largely Christian south, which can be a source of discrimination against women: the country’s top Muslim cleric rejected a gender equality bill in 2016 that proposed equal inheritance for men and women on the grounds that it violated Islamic law.