Ever met anyone as passionate about promoting self-love in women as Chinny Okoye? We doubt you have. For Chinny, the desire to see every woman become confident in who God has created her to be is her life’s purpose and she will not stop until women across Africa get to hear this message. What drives her? Why self love? Why this path? Find out as she bares it all in our interview with her.
Can you briefly tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Chinny Okoye. I was born in March and you know what that means….emotional and selfless. I won’t try and bore you by telling you where I went to school and how many siblings I have. Those are not the things that define me. What I do and who I am defines me. I define myself. I believe very much that I was specially designed by God for a purpose on this earth and that purpose is the journey that I am currently on. Improving myself to be the best I can possibly be in every aspect of my life, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally and at the same time assisting to improve the lives of many African women around the world. My purpose on earth is to touch the lives of women one step at a time and that defines who I am today. Who is Chinny? Chinny is “The Women.” I live, eat and breathe “The Women.” God called, and I answered. I’m just in that place where I’m waiting for what God’s plan is…the bigger picture!
You are the Founder of The Women International. Can you tell us what inspired you to start it?
My passion and dream to be a change maker and to improve my country in any way I can inspired The Women. Moving back to Nigeria from Boston where I studied, my dream was to work with an NGO pertaining to women and children and then eventually run an organization that is focused on women.
I was never really sure what exactly I wanted to do with such organization but somehow God showed me the way through a couple of women who till today inspire me. My ever so loving mum, Prof. Ifeoma Okoye who has always been my fan, and who I got my selfless spirit from. My sister Mrs Adaobi Ebozue, who has made me realize that I am stronger than I think. Mrs Tade Alade, a very dear friend who I actually met after starting The Women and who assisted me in creating a niche for The Women, Mrs Leslie Okoye, who is my in law and a great anchor and motivator, my sister and friend Yanate Banigo who has been supportive throughout the journey of The Women, my good friend Initeme Adukeh who is also a director of The Women, and who from the beginning assisted me in coming up with ideas for The Women and my aunty Dr. Ify Nwakwesi who believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself, supporting and pushing me to continue.
Like they say when women support women, amazing things happen! These women, sent from God assisted me in starting The women in one way or another. Of course my ultimate inspirer from the beginning till now has always and will always be my Father in heaven who just continuously puts ideas in my head and somehow makes them come to fruition.
What impact has The Women International had since it started?
Wow! The impact has been quite overwhelming to me. The circles that we do monthly has grown rapidly. We get frequent messages from women talking about how we have inspired them and changed their lives and that makes me so happy and fulfilled. We also get messages from women who haven’t been to any of our circles but who are inspired by our social media pages. It is an awesome feeling I tell you! To know that we haven’t even started. We intend to impact more lives every day. One thing we focus on is “self love” and it’s amazing to see people accepting self love and how important it is. When we started, it seemed like people where a bit skeptical about the meaning of self love, but now things seem to have changed. Women are now realizing how important self love is.
Why is self-love important for every woman?
Self-love is the first step to self-improvement. What women need to understand is that self-love affects every part of your life. It can affect your relationships, business, work, etc. You have to love yourself to realise who you are and what your worth is. Not embracing self-love will mess with your self-esteem, self-confidence, self-acceptance, self-actualization and more. Self-love is the answer to self-improvement. When you begin to love yourself wholeheartedly you begin to accept yourself and embrace who you are and then you will begin to work on those things that need improvement in your life with love and not hate. You can’t hate yourself and want to improve on yourself. Loving yourself might sound like an easy thing to do but it actually isn’t. However, it is something every woman must do to be able to live a happy life that is fulfilled and purpose driven. I can go on and on. These are the sort of topics we discuss during or circles and so we urge women to attend our circles so they can truly understand why self-love is indeed important in the lives of women. As women we go through so much, self-love is the answer. Believe it and act on it.
You also have a makeup business. What’s it like running that business and The Women International?
Well, it’s been pretty difficult actually. TWI seems to have taking over. Makeup is a talent I have always had from a very young age; however, TWI is who I am and what I must do to fulfil my purpose in life. In other words, I have to do what I have to do. There is nothing that can’t be done! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
Has funding ever been an issue for you?
Funding is the biggest issue. Every day I wake up that is what I think about…funding. Everything we have done has had to come out from my pocket. A few helping hands here and there. God always has a way of sorting me out. We have been looking for various ways in which we can get funding and we have been working on it. God’s time is the best. For now, we have to keep pushing until we can get the funds. No funds? Well, that will not stop me! Thankfully we are expanding and we will be offering self-improvement and personal development services to individuals, and organisations. We have been working on this new venture, which will now be the business side of TWI and we hope to launch soon God willing. It is pretty exciting actually.
What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
The support I have gotten so far. It is amazing. So many people have supported me in one way or another. I can’t begin to count the number of women who have supported TWI apart from the women previously mentioned. All of these women are the reason we are still here. All our lovely volunteers from all parts of the world who have volunteered their time, expertise, knowledge, experience, wow! I didn’t see it coming. The keynote speakers who took out their time in their very busy schedule to accept our invitation to speak. Friends and family who have been supportive, both men and women. You know yourselves. All the women who have hosted The Circle in their homes or their businesses. Mrs Wura Manola, our lovely host for the circle London chapter. I especially want to thank a very special person to me who I met during one of our circles, Mibi. If I begin to explain how she has been one of the big reasons TWI is still standing I probably won’t be able to finish. Amazing woman! Your own is coming my Mibi! All these women are the reasons for TWI’s success. Without their support, TWI wouldn’t be where it is today.
What keeps you going when the odds are against you?
When I go back and read the feedback or when I think about the circles and how emotional women get, the impact TWI is actually making in the lives of women and the impact it has made on me, how can I give up? I can’t! I must go on. It is difficult sometimes. I would be lying if I told you everything was fine and dandy. Sometimes I cry out of frustration (that’s the emotional Chinny right there!) I can’t even count how many times I have cried and asked myself why I am doing this but it is all for a good cause. A lot of my time and energy has gone into TWI. I pray that God will continue to do many awesome and unbelievable things in the lives of many women through TWI.
What are your future plans for The Women International?
We have a lot of plans for TWI. Like I said previously, we are expanding TWI. We will now have a business part where we provide women focused self-development and self-improvement services to individuals and organisations. We will also have TWI foundation where we will continue with our monthly free circles. The circles, of course, will eventually expand to other cities around Nigeria and other countries around the world. We are already in talks with a few people about expanding our circles. We have a lot in store for women and we can’t wait to share. Our ultimate goal is to Inspire, Empower, Educate, Motivate and Encourage women to be the very best in every aspect of their lives both personally and professionally and to assist women in realising their full potential. We realise that women go through a lot and we carry a lot on our shoulders. At TWI we want to let every woman know that they can overcome whatever life throws at them. You are not alone, and together we will reach our happy place.
What advice do you have for a woman who wants to follow your path?
Never give up! Consistency I believe is key. Even though it may seem hard and people may tell you that you can’t do it, you have to believe in yourself and your abilities. Most of all, believe in what you are doing. People can smell a lack of self-confidence from afar, and that is never a good sign. You can do it! Whatever it is, YOU can do it. You are enough! You are the answer. Start now! Make it happen! And then the ultimate; ’Love yourself’ unconditionally and see everything fall into place.
The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series that focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes women empowerment and gender inclusion for women of African descent.
Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to [email protected] and we just might feature her.