Giftie Umo was declared the Great Dames Remarkable Ideas Pitch Event winner on the final day of the nonprofit’s “Reimagining Your Remarkable Life” global virtual conference.
The conference took place from Sept. 21-25 and featured hour-long lunchtime sessions.
Umo, who was awarded a $1,000 prize, founded Girls Leading Africa to empower girls and young mothers who face gender inequity. While boys embrace myriad opportunities after graduating from high school, the girls in the culture fear abuse and must choose marriage or leave their homes to become “domestic maids,” Umo said. “I was tired of the invisible scars women and girls carry with them. I believe there is no better time to amplify their voices.”
Girls Leading Africa provides quality education and skills to girls, then links them to employers or supports their business pursuits. The nonprofit has raised $28,000, which has gone toward administrative and operational costs. The prize money will purchase computers and sewing machines.
Of the conference, 17-year-old Londoner Emily Clark-Irons said she felt “empowered, motivated, and inspired as a young woman.” Echoing that sentiment was Goldey-Beacom College executive Janine Sorbello, who said, ‘I find that I’m looking forward to every day at noon.” Donna Ron, a 74-year-old grandmother and cancer survivor, said, “Joining and interacting with Great Dames for these days has lifted my spirits tremendously.”
“Giftie Umo is young woman of remarkable courage who is giving other women a voice,” says Great Dames President Sharon Kelly Hake.“She exemplifies a Great Dame and the profound sense of connection we experience as a global community. We are kindred spirits with purpose.” Kelly Hake adds that the conference exceeded expectations, attracting hundreds of intergenerational women from 10 countries.
Speakers included U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, Delaware’s first female Black congresswoman; Joan Pendergrass, author, speaker, and wife of the late music legend Teddy Pendergrass; Dr. Wendy Smith, a University of Delaware professor and thought leader; Leticia Gomez, pioneering LatinX literary, film, and television agent; Kay White, best-selling British author and career mentor; Miracle Olatunji, a GenZ phenom and founder of OpportuniME, and DeLores Pressley, an international speaker, author, and former guest of The Oprah Winfrey Show.