Meet the Match
A Former Politician with a Passion for Empowerment
AdaMark was the third of 1o children and the first daughter born into a large, but close-knit family. Growing up, she had three older brothers who played sports, especially squash, lawn tennis, and basketball. As a child, AdaMark always joined in the games. Only later did she realize the societal differences that existed between boys and girls in sport.
“Being the first girl, I didn’t think there was a gender difference. I didn’t grow up to know that. I thought we were all the same. But in school, I realized no other girls were playing many sports….it wasn’t encouraged. I had to find a different way to feel empowered.”
At the age of 26, AdaMark ran for the Nigerian House of Representatives and won. She is the only woman from her district to ever accomplish such a feat. This victory was a launch pad for AdaMark’s career and served as an inspiration to many women and girls in her community. “I believe that the human race is a two-winged bird (male and female) and unless the two are equally developed, it won’t be able to fly. This is why as a young woman I went into politics, believing I could make a difference and trusting that if I couldn’t change everything, I could at least show that change was possible.”
Using her political platform, AdaMark sought to empower young women and girls by developing policies that encouraged greater access to education. In her district, girls were dropping out of school very early, which resulted in low self-esteem, depression, and a high rate of teenage pregnancy and HIV transmission. Her involvement in politics proved less effective than she had hoped; as a politician, she could push for new policies, but she always felt two steps removed from the population that she was hoping to reach. After a few years, she left politics and served as one of the few Nigerians to have volunteered and worked for the United Nations in post-conflict zone of West Africa. She then continued her leadership in voluntarism by establishing her own foundation, the AdaMark Foundation for Girls.
Through her foundation, AdaMark seeks to empower young women and girls through sports and education. Using the United Nations Millennium Development Goals as her guide, AdaMark provides activities that promote gender equity, human rights, public health, and equal access to resources. “Through my foundation, I want to spread awareness about the importance of giving girls equal opportunities. Through proactive trainings and preventive intervention strategies, we want to empower young girls to become strong advocates on their own behalf and to speak out when their rights are being violated.”
Through this program, AdaMark hopes to develop her skills in event management, marketing, and social messaging. She also hopes to gain insight into voluntarism and better ways to mobilize local stakeholders. Currently, AdaMark is coordinating one of the largest basketball tournaments in Nigeria. She looks forward to learning new ways that she can market this event, increase overall participation, and manage it more efficiently. She also anticipates that she will learn how to improve her own mentoring skills so she can train the next generation of female leaders. We believe there is no greater fit for AdaMark than Mary and her team at New York Road Runners.
At New York Road Runners, AdaMark will be exposed to one of the most successful non-profit organizations in the country. She will have an opportunity to learn cutting-edge management skills, including finance, strategy planning, infrastructure, and operations. In addition, she will receive practical training in event management, voluntarism, youth programming, sponsorships, and partnerships. We are excited by the synergy that exists between AdaMark and Mary and can’t wait to see the ways they will improve the lives of young Nigerian women and girls through sport.