The Contribution of the Young Activist Moniola Odunsi in Fighting for Racial Justice

“Never give up trying to make a difference for a better future and remember that age is truly just a number!" — Moniola Odunsi

16-year-old Moniola Odunsi is the next young bright activist that Youth Time brings to your attention. She created Equally- a software platform leveraging artificial intelligence and natural language processing to detect implicit bias. 

Moniola, along with three teammates, were challenged to create a project that can help grow the income of those hit hardest by the COVID-19 economic crisis. And as you will see through this piece, they did it excellently by designing Equally!

Speaking exclusively to Youth Time, she also introduces the Bits of Business, which she founded in May 2020 and it highlights the work of underrepresented entrepreneurs, leaders, and change-makers who are impacting the world daily through multimedia interviews available on several platforms.

Odunsi is among these activists that make their voices heard in every circumstance and her journey is an inspiration for communities beyond her own!

 

A Voice Against Racial Injustice

Currently, the team is in the process of developing preliminary algorithms for Equally and researching ways to turn the idea of Equally into reality through discussions with professors and people experienced in the Artificial Intelligence field. 

“The idea for Equally was influenced by the rise in racial injustice against minority populations and how implicit bias has proven to cause the death of innocent people daily.”, says Odunsi, who is a junior at The Madeira School just outside of Washington, D.C.

“Our team recognizes that most discrimination is not intentional—it is a by-product of a society that’s been engrained with racism.”

Thus, unfortunately, she notes, many do not realize the implicit biases they possess, which, nonetheless, cause harm. Understanding this fact and desiring to change such eventually led to the concept for Equally. “

“We know that there is much more for us to understand and learn before Equally can take shape; however, we are determined to put in the work to make Equally a reality.”, she adds.

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Recognizing the Need for Greater Diversity

Knowing that her idea for Equally was awarded first place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) World Series of Innovation, in this part of our piece, she values this award as an incredible achievement for both herself and the team.

“It was an honour to be recognized for the idea among countless other teams around the world, and to know that the potential impact of Equally was recognized by both the judges and the Moody Foundation executives who sponsored the competition.”

Beyond the competition, she appreciates that she was given the incredible opportunity to speak about Equally on the Wharton Global Youth Podcast, where I discussed not only Equally but also the importance of the youth voice in advocating for social justice. 

“It is important for us as Gen Z to use our resources, whether it be active (not passive) advocacy through social media or having integral conversations about topics with family members, to drive the change we want our future to embody.”

Odunsi also stressed the importance of recognizing the need for greater diversity in the field of change making, specifically business and innovation as a whole, because, as per her opinion, while the number is growing, there is still a lack of POC in positions of power in the business field.

 

Bits of Business as a Helping Tool

Her activism does not end here. She also started a blog, for which she speaks more below.

“Given the rise in injustices against people of colour, I felt a strong urge in 2020 to highlight the work of POC women in business who are frequently overlooked by the media. As a result, I launched Bits of Business, a podcast and website platform that highlights the work of businesswomen of colour,” she says.

She interviewed people ranging from the Director of Data Analytics at Walmart Global Technology to the Senior Director of Digital Innovation Center & Academy at T-Mobile to the NSE D & I Lead at Deloitte to Forbes 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs with her international team of other teenage girls from Nigeria, Indonesia, and the UAE. 

“Additionally, through Bits of Business, I have been able to partner with non-profit organizations like LEAP Africa and the Girls Leadership Collaborative, to share lessons from these leaders as well as my personal lessons as a youth entrepreneur to inspire youth who desire to enter the field.”

Through this platform, she helps youth around the world who may not typically seem themselves reflected in the business world to know that leadership is not a “one-size-fits-all” but comes in many forms.

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The Endless Possibilities of Creating Change

Recalling that Youth Time is a magazine run by young people for young people, she has an inspiring message to all those young people out there struggling to make positive changes in their communities.

“Never give up trying to make a difference for a better future and remember that age is truly just a number! The only person that can stop you from making change is yourself, and if you take advantage of your resources, whether it be your parents, teachers, friends, adults that you trust, or even the internet, creating change is not a matter of “what if?” but of “when.”

Conclusively, she reminds us that creating positive change does not have to be massive. 

“Even the little things that may seem insignificant add up in creating a better future for all of us.”

“Technology like Equally can and must play a role in creating a more equitable future for us all!”

As a new year is ahead of us, let’s all get inspired by Odunsi’s wonderful journey and do our best to play an active role in our communities and although it sounds a cliché- let’s all take the courage to be the change we want to see in the world!  

 

Pictures courtesy of Moniola Odunsi.


Check out some more amazing work from youth activists around the world.

The Success Story of Youth Activism in Brazil: COLETI.VU Initiative and Its Important Impact


 

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