Foluke Adetola Ojelabi

Social policy officer, UNICEF
Nationality: Nigerian
Living in: Lagos, Nigeria
Fields of work: poverty reduction, social inclusion, social protection, public finance analysis, public health

“Courage has been integral for me in maintaining the commitment to ensure that women and children, especially girls, get the opportunities and services necessary for a life of dignity. Starting as a teenage volunteer, channelling the course I have followed has required me to draw courage from within and strength from everything that can shine a light for positive change. It takes courage to be kind, and I constantly leverage kindness while staying motivated to also show kindness. The courage to remain committed to my vision often comes from moments when I take time for leisure (walking and enjoying nature). Even when taking the next step seems too daunting, courage finds me and I embrace it.”
— Foluke Adetola Ojelabi

Foluke Adetola Ojelabi was born and raised in Northern Nigeria and started her development experience with non-profit organisations as a teenage volunteer. She believes strongly that her life goal is to contribute to making positive change for women and girls, a spark discovered through her curiosity as a child about disparities of resource distribution and the experiences of girls and women in Kano city.

Trained in public health (epidemiology), Foluke joined the Nigerian office of UNICEF, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund, in 2016, where she currently serves as a social policy officer. She focuses on working for poverty reduction and social inclusion using innovative social protection interventions, and is passionate about promoting equity and access to services for girls and women. She has worked at community level, nationally and internationally in social policy, health advocacy and the implementation of development projects that aim for equity.

Foluke studied at the University of Ibadan and has an MPH in public health. She is an alumna of the Atlas Corps Fellowship in Washington, DC, and in 2012 was chosen as one of 100 young Commonwealth leaders for leadership training. From 2009-2010, Foluke initiated a health equity dialogue with traditional leaders in Northwestern Nigeria, where she engaged in Kebbi and Niger states with the emirs of Argungu, Koko-Besse, Jega, Tunga-Magajiya, Borgu and Lapai.

She has served as an ambassador in Nigeria for the Girl Rising global project, and was on the technical team coordinating the two-day Women and Girls Summit 2014 in Abuja, a collaborative project between Friends Africa, Nigeria’s National Centre for Women Development and the Office of the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

A member of the Roll Back Malaria Communications Community of Practice and Malaria Advocacy Working group from 2013-2015, Foluke is currently a member of the Global Burden of Disease Study collaborative network.

“‘Hope comes from hearing’ is a principle that has guided my journey. Hearing that my work is making some difference, no matter how small or gradual, hearing that there is still more work to be done, and hearing good news like the opportunity to join the Atlantic Fellows!

Technology gives me hope because it has provided a platform for me to hear from far and wide about the inequalities that girls and women face. It has broken barriers and merged a vast global space. Technology keeps alive the flame of working to end inequalities in my lifetime, to pursue knowledge and exchange ideas, and to document what generations yet to come can learn from.

Technology gives me hope for the future that improvements can be realised and barriers can be broken. Through technology I hear a steady rhythm to keep working, keep reaching out, keep writing and most importantly keep up hope: this is the right cause to remain committed to!”
— Foluke Adetola Ojelabi