In recent decades, the globe has witnessed progress toward more gender equality, but the rate of change has been unequal, and massive inequities still exist. Significant obstacles still lie in the way of women and girls achieving their full potential. Every year, 15 million females under the age of 18 marry throughout the world. Girls are still less likely than males in certain nations to complete high school. In economic and political decision-making, women and girls are underrepresented.
Women face barriers to equal participation in the formal economy, earn less, and have unequal access to assets and property.4,5 They are also 14 percent less likely than men to own a cell phone, and 1.1 billion women remain unbanked.6, 7 Giving birth is one of the most dangerous days of a woman’s life for millions of women. Inequalities exist in all industries and realms, yet they vary significantly within and across countries.
Dr. JoAnn Ajayi-Scott is the founder and CEO of Essence of a Lady, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to supporting females of all ages through educational opportunities, mentorship, and special programs. She is a congressional award-winning philanthropist, global empowerment speaker, and iconic entrepreneur. Over 1000 girls have received reading and math assistance, mentorship sessions, and empowerment speeches and counseling from over 400 women thanks to her leadership.
Ajayi-Scott has a combined 107 years of experience in teaching, mentorship, and empowerment. For over ten years, her bachelor’s degree in economics and her relationship with the National Education of Financial Endowment provided the skills to teach financial literacy to hundreds of middle and high school students. Her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a focus on literacy, as well as a partnership with Mentor.org, enabled her to develop a research-based curriculum that was used in three states and six school districts to provide weekly group mentoring sessions to over 1000 girls in elementary, middle, and high school.
Ajayi-Scott’s research for her dissertation provided her with the insight to understand mentoring at a deeper, historical and empirical level. Her affiliations with Girl Scouts, National Women of Achievement, Public Speakers Association, National Council of American Executives, National Association of Professional Women, International Society of Female Professionals, and International Women’s Leadership Association provided her with continuous learning and leadership skills to leverage Essence of a Lady’s mission to educate, mentor, and empower youth through the philanthropy of women. She states, “Now, after establishing connections around the world, I will take 20 girls and 10 women to a summer retreat and mission to Ghana and Kenya, Africa, from June 6-24, 2022, through two partnerships, one here and one in Africa.”
Giving without Expecting Anything in Return
Ajayi-Scott had previously achieved some success as an entrepreneur before launching Essence of a Lady. As an independent agent for ITT Life and a professional fundraising consultant, she had worked in sales and marketing. She has also fought to inspire women to achieve their aspirations since she was in high school. She says, “I helped charter the first black girls’ club, the Ebonettes, at my high school.” She helped charter the first dormitory girl’s group in college, DeGraff’s Dolls, and developed a new brownie troop in 1995 when her youngest daughter was 6 years old.
Ajayi-Scott’s guiding technique is to show females unconditional love and non-judgmental support. Her view is that money should never limit a girl’s capacity to participate; nonetheless, everyone should make an effort to support Essence of a Lady’s vision and goal by donating their time, skills, and wealth; after all, philanthropy is all about giving without expecting anything in return.
Essence of a Lady
Essence of a Lady is a non-profit organization that is self-sustaining. The goal is to educate, mentor, and empower females with professional, leadership, and social skills so that they can graduate from high school, continue their education, and/or start their own business. Through the charity of professional and enterprising women, the objective is that all women and girls will achieve and maintain maximum health and prosperity.
Essence of a Lady helps empower women by
- Proving a platform for them to share their stories of triumph.
- Showing girls, life is a journey, not a destination.
- Working in partnership with the Females are Fabulous Empowerment Series to create a media, marketing, and PR platform for women to share their stories of triumph in a variety of formats.
View on the Requisite of Women’s Empowerment
Longevity, perseverance, resilience, and good networking, according to Ajayi-Scott, have all helped her career. She goes on to say that being able to stay in the same place for over 32 years, providing knowledge, wisdom, and skills to women while also recruiting them to do the same for girls, has kept her relevant, helped her establish a devoted following, and positioned her to leverage others to greatness. She says. “The one thing that has held me back has been funding and corporate support.”
As a woman leader, Ajayi-Scott watches women and girls succeed despite adversity, difficulties, and tribulations because of the methods, skills, and resources available to them. She discovers that regardless of how bright women are, how many degrees they have, or the level of success they achieve, women are still women in the eyes of this male-dominated culture, and will never be considered EQUAL to men. She opines, “We have to BE THE CHANGE we wish to see in the world and create our own way. I will know what success looks like when I educate, mentor and empower 1000 women to utilize their time, talent, and treasure to help educate, mentor, and empower each other and girls during 2022.
Serving others is Real Success
“Value in service because when you provide great service, you will achieve success,” says Ajayi-Scott. She believes that the most successful people in the world mastered being of service to others, understanding that when you bless others, you will be blessed 100- fold. She also thinks, “Be a blessing and you will be blessed, and the greatest joy is knowing you made a difference in someone’s life.”
Empowering Women so they can bring the change
Ajayi-Scott teaches women about the value of generosity and how it is their responsibility to give back what they have been given. She advises people on how to get started giving back and how to make a livelihood as a philanthropist. She encourages them to use their abilities, skills, and knowledge to pursue their passions, and they will become legendary when they share their success stories with other women, but most importantly, with girls.
Ajayi-Scott’s vision is that all the 1000 women will help Essence of a Lady help girls gain maximum health and wealth through the strategies, tools, resources, and support provided through Essence of a Lady, Inc. She envisions herself as the Founder and CEO of Essence of a Lady, Inc. being welcomed to the White House to highlight ORDINARY women who are accomplishing extraordinary things in their communities, businesses, and throughout the world. From this, Essence of a Lady, Inc will build a global community of affiliate mentoring programs to utilize the mentoring model to help educate, mentor, and empower women and girls around the world. She adds, “Their ability to change their mindset, focus in on their why, and understand that philanthropy is the core of their existence.”