The nominations for the 2019 Women of the Future Awards (supported by Aviva), are now open.
The Women of the Future Awards, founded by Pinky Lilani CBE DL in 2006, were conceived to provide a platform to strengthen the pipeline of female talent in the UK. The awards, now in their fourteenth year, celebrate the most innovative, determined and talented young women from every corner of the UK and in every field.
In 2018, it was Dunola Oladapo, founder of Luton Lights, who took home the Women of the Future Community Spirits Award. Let’s take this moment to spotlight Dunola’s achievements and the considerable impact of her incredible work.
A young woman with a bold vision
Dunola is just 23 years old. She is passionate about representative diversity and youth social action and, alongside her full-time role in finance and international advocacy work, she is the founder of Luton Lights, an initiative designed to motivate and inspire girls in the town in which she grew up.
Determined to transform any negative rhetoric associated with the area by creating opportunities in Luton for girls aged 11 and above, Luton Lights provides free and representative career mentorships, workshops and courses that acknowledge and develop the potential of young women.
To date, Luton Lights courses have included workshops on motivation, social action, mentoring, confidence and coding. As just one example: in 2018, Luton Lights took 50 young women to visit MPs at the House of Commons; the House of Lords and the London Facebook office, sending a strong message to young women from the Luton area that they too belong in politics and tech.
Luton Lights is not externally funded (Dunola moved back to her family home in 2017 so that she could save funds to run the programme), but the flourishing Luton Lights line-up of events is testament to Dunola’s bold vision to create more opportunities for young women to grow in confidence and practical, transferable skills.
Ripples of change
Dunola’s social action is not limited to the Luton area. She is a G(irls)20 Global Ambassador; a member of the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network, and she sits on the #iWill Fund leadership board.
In 2017 she was selected as the UK ambassador to the G(irls)20 Summit where she worked with young female ambassadors from all over the world to build a policy document on migration, climate change and digitalisation, also holding the G20 world leaders accountable to their 2014 pledge to create 100 million new jobs for women by 2025. Following a successful year of advocacy, she was chosen to represent G(irls)20 at the 2018 Women in Political Leadership forum in Vilnius.
What does this award means to our winner?
When asked what winning this award means, Dunola replied:
I am so humbled and overwhelmed by this award. It is so important to have a platform like the Women of the Future Awards so that you can actually manifest the changes that you imagine.
Maya Angelou said ‘I come as one, but I stand as 10,000’, and I want to thank you all for being part of my 10,000. Honestly, I’m going to walk with my head a bit higher now, because I have your support, and that is what community spirit is all about. It’s about supporting each other and being part of each other’s 10,000.
Watch the highlights of the 2018 Women of the Future Awards