Maudlyn Akosua Awuku: Actioning Change For Women And Youth!

Maudlyn Akosua Awuku is an award-winning Gender and Youth leadership Advocate. She is the founder and CEO of GEWE Network (UK) and Anijie Global Foundation (Ghana), empowering women and youth to address intersectional gender equality, quality education, and climate action.  

Can you tell us about your journey and what inspired you to become a women leadership advocate?

My journey to becoming a women’s leadership advocate is a testament to the power of resilience, the transformative impact of education, and the potential of opportunities in a young person’s life, especially for girls. Growing up, I witnessed a world where young girls were often taught to dim their light, to prioritize marriage over their dreams and I was determined to rewrite this narrative.

Life threw countless obstacles in my path. My high school results vanished mysteriously due to flaws in the educational system, financial constraints blocked my university dreams, and Bell’s Palsy paralyzed half my face affecting my already fragileself-esteem and confidence. But with each setback, my resolve only grew stronger. I refused to let circumstances define me. Instead, I chose to define my circumstances.

The turning point came when I experienced life in a more developed community. The contrast was stark, eye-opening, and ultimately, transformative. I saw clearly how lack of access to education and opportunities was suffocating the potential of countless bright minds in marginalized areas. This realization ignited a passion within me to drive change.

Inspired by my experiences, I founded GEWE Network and Anijie Global Foundation that provides mentorship, educational and training support to young girls in underserved communities in Ghana and UK with over 15,000 beneficiaries in the past fiveyears alone.

I envision a world where women aren’t just participants, but leaders in every sphere of life – from boardrooms to political chambers. A world where gender equality isn’t a goal, but a reality. Where quality education is a right, not a privilege.

My personal journey from a girl with vanished exam results to a women’s leadership advocate has reinforced my belief in the power of perseverance and the importance of creating opportunities for others. Every day, I work towards building a future where every girl can dream big and have the support to achieve those dreams.

What was the motivation behind founding the GEWE Network and the Anijie Global Foundation?

My personal experiences with adversity have been a driving force, instilling in me a deep belief in the power of resilience. Recognizing the untapped potential often hindered by lack of access to education, poverty, and underdevelopment, I resolved to establish spaces that enable individuals from marginalized backgrounds to unlock their full potential and achieve their dreams.

I wanted to show others, especially young women, that it’s possible to overcome challenges and reach for your aspirations. To manifest this vision, I founded two organizations: GEWE Network in the UK and Anijie Global Foundation in Ghana. Both are dedicated to empowering women and young people who face systemic barriers or need opportunities to maximize their untapped leadership potential, access equitable education, and create social change.

These aren’t just organizations; they’re beacons of hope and catalysts for change. We’ve touched thousands of lives, not just through education and skills training, but by igniting the spark of self-belief in each individual we reach. Our goal is to empower women and youth to shatter the glass ceilings society has placed above them.

How do these organizations specifically contribute to achieving gender equality and empowering women and youth?

We tackle the root causes of gender inequality and create pathways for sustainable change by focusing on Education, Leadership development, Entrepreneurship, Addressing basic needs such as menstrual hygiene.

Through our advocacy and mentorship programs, we amplify young women’s voices, championing Women’s leadership, Combating period poverty, Skills development and Financial independence

In the long term, these initiatives address critical issues like: Reducing teenage pregnancy rates, domestic violence and early child marriage.

Additionally, our programs instill confidence in girls, encouraging them to aim high and advance women’s leadership for gender equality. By implementing these multifaceted approaches, we’re laying the groundwork for lasting, positive change in society.

Can you share some success stories from GEWE Network and Anijie Global Foundation that have particularly inspired you?

Our organizations have made significant strides in empowering women and girls, reaching over 15,000 beneficiaries to date. Some of our key achievements include:

– Donating over 3,000 sanitary towels and providing menstrual health education to help girls stay in school during menstruation

– Visiting more than 50 basic schools and donating 5,000 books to support education

– Implementing community advocacy programs that advance quality education and lifelong learning

– Providing technical and vocational skills training, as well as entrepreneurship education, to young women to promote economic independence and poverty alleviation.

These successes particularly resonate with my personal journey and the challenges I’ve overcome. It’s truly heartening to see how our work is helping to shift societal norms, challenge outdated notions about women’s roles, and create a new generation of empowered leaders.

Each person reached by our programs has the potential to become a catalyst for change in their own community, amplifying our impact far beyond the initial beneficiaries. Our success stories serve as a powerful reminder of why I started this work and why it’s crucial to persist in the face of challenges.

Every day, I’m inspired by the girls and women we impact. It’s not just about my journey anymore; it’s about paving the way for women to rise and lead positively in their communities and beyond.

How did your experience as a delegate to the UN Women UK delegation at the Commission on the Status of Women shape your perspectives and strategies in advocating for gender equality?

My experience with the UN provided a global perspective on gender equality issues, exposing me to innovative solutions worldwide. It reinforced the power of collective action and the importance of amplifying diverse voices. I gained insight into addressing systemic barriers, engaging men as allies, and creating sustainable, community-driven solutions. This experience broadened my understanding of global challenges and strengthened my resolve to advocate effectively for women’s rights and empowerment.

What advice would you give to young women who aspire to take on leadership roles in their communities or careers?

Remember, every great leader started exactly where you are now.

I was once told I couldn’t take certain initiatives because I was “just a girl and needed to slow down.” That moment fuelled my determination. Today, as the founder of successful non-profits, I say to every young woman: Your gender is not a limitation—it’s a strength.

Find one small way to lead in your school, workplace, or community. Volunteer your time and find a mentor. You’ll learn a lot, leadership starts with these small steps.

I challenge you to set an audacious goal today—something that scares you a little. Then, take one step toward it.

Embrace failure as a teacher, not an enemy. Every ‘no’ is one step closer to a ‘yes’. Your resilience in the face of setbacks will inspire others and define you. The world needs your unique voice, ideas, and leadership.

How do you see the role of women in leadership evolving in the next decade, particularly in the corporate and entrepreneurial landscapes?

We are at a pivotal moment where outdated notions that have limited women’s advancement are being challenged and dismantled. I envision a significant increase in women not just participating in leadership, but redefining its very nature. Women leaders will bring fresh perspectives, emphasizing collaboration, empathy, and sustainability alongside traditional metrics of success.

However, this evolution requires intentional effort from all sectors. To accelerate progress, we must create more opportunities for women through targeted mentorship programs, increased access to funding, and comprehensive leadership training. Crucially, these initiatives should extend beyond major cities to empower women in underserved areas, ensuring a diverse and inclusive leadership landscape.

As we move forward, I anticipate women playing an increasingly pivotal role in shaping corporate cultures and driving innovation in the entrepreneurial sphere. This shift will not only benefit women but will also lead to more dynamic, resilient, and successful organizations across all industries.

How do you envision the future of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Ghana and globally?

I envision a future where gender equality and women’s empowerment are not just aspirations, but lived realities. Young girls will no longer be socially conditioned to prioritize marriage over exploring their full potential. Instead, they’ll be encouraged to pursue education and develop their talents. In this future, women’s voices will be equally represented in politics, business, and decision-making at all levels.

To achieve this future, we need to break down systemic barriers and outdated notions that hold women back. It’s a future where we celebrate and support ambition in all its forms, regardless of gender.

What legacy do you hope to leave behind through your work and advocacy efforts?

I aspire to leave a legacy to inspire resilience by overcoming adversity and empowering others through leadership and inclusion especially women and youth from marginalized backgrounds.

I want to be remembered as someone who not only overcame personal challenges but dedicated her life to lifting others.

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