Changing The Face Of Politics Podcast
Special Episode: Julieta Martinez interviews Peace Ayo
Tune in to hear our additional interview from this special edition podcast as Peace Ayo interviews Chilean climate justice and gender equity youth activist, Julieta Martinez.
Introduction: Welcome to the National Democratic Institute’s Changing The Face of Politics podcast series. In these candid conversations recorded from home, politically-active women from around the globe interview each other about the male dominated world of politics. They're the best examples of why we need to move faster to reach political parity between men and women before the middle of the next century, and change the face of politics. In this special edition episode for 2022's International Day of the Girl Child, you will hear Julieta Martinez interview Peace Ayo about the importance of engaging young women and girls in politics while breaking through gender norms in Nigeria.
Julieta Martinez: Hello everyone, and welcome to this special edition episode of the Changing the Face of Politics podcast series in celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child. Let me please introduce myself, my name is Julieta Martinez. I'm 19 years old. I'm a climate justice and gender equality activist from Chile. Basically, what I do is trying to find this connection between the climate crisis and the gender agenda. Understand this, the climate crisis has a woman’s space and that girls’ education is a climate solution. While we’re talking about education, I want to tell you a little bit about the wonderful activist I'm here with today. She is Peace Ayo. She is a Nigerian girls education advocate. So which one is your last name and which one is your name? I need to ask because I have been so confused these past couple of days.
Peace Ayo: So, most people just call me Ayo.
Julieta Martinez: I’m gonna go with Ayo.
Peace Ayo: Ayo, yeah.
Julieta Martinez: Wonderful. And so nice to meet you. I had the opportunity to read a little bit of your bio, the wonderful work that you're doing. I can't start this podcast without saying thank you so much for your work as a 19 year old. I appreciate it. And I know that we're both the same age, so it's amazing to see people from all over the world doing such amazing things as you. So welcome to the podcast. How are you doing today?
Peace Ayo: I'm fine, and you?
Julieta Martinez: I'm pretty good. Specifically as I have the opportunity to interview you so we can go right to it.
Peace Ayo: Okay.
Julieta Martinez: So my first question for you, Ayo, is what motivated you to get politically involved and what has driven your activism?
Peace Ayo: I think since I was ten, I always wanted to be a voice that will help amplify other voices. I always wanted to look for ways to help people. And I think politics is one thing that is connected to people and politics and people are very connected and we cannot do without each other. So I felt like, okay, one of the ways that I could help people was to actually get politically involved. Like, know the things, the rules, the constitution. What are those rules that make people, like, difficult? What are those things that we need to change? What are those things that we need to, we need to restructure? What are those rules that we need to amend and stuff like that. And I think that's why I'm so much focusing on this campaign of the Child Rights Act, making sure that every child has equal rights. And honestly, I just really wanted to do something or I just want to do something that would lead a positive impact. And I feel politics would do that for me.
Julieta Martinez: That's so interesting, especially because when I was reading your bio, I noticed that you started at such a young age. I don't know if it happens in Nigeria, but here in Chile, for example, when you talk about politics, you have a lot of adults telling you, oh, no. At this table, we don’t talk about politics and that’s something a lot of young people grow up with.
Peace Ayo: When you talk about politics, when you're girls and it's not actually meant for women, you're not supposed to talk about politics. I think in some places it feels like a taboo for some parents or some people to hear that you're talking about politics because they just perceive you as someone who just wants to…I think the way people see politics in my country is we see it as a means of let me just say the way we say it in my country. You don't even see it as something that is a way or as a means of helping people. You just see it as, okay, I just want to get resources, power and recognition.
Julieta Martinez: Gosh, I don't know why that story sounds familiar. You should come to Chile one of these days. So based on that, we know that there's so many things that we must change, especially these misogynistic speeches. Why is it so important to get young women and girls involved in politics? And how can we get them involved?
Peace Ayo: It is very important to get young women and girls in politics because if you check the statistics, how can you leave the majority out of the equation? What are you trying to solve without the majority needs? Now, you don't get to ask the opinion. You don't get to ask them what they feel, what they want. You don't even get to let their voices say, we have brilliant women with brilliant strategic plans. If a woman can build her family, I don't see why she cannot build a nation, because a nation is just a larger part of the family. Women should get involved in politics, and it's something that every government around the world should take advantage of because if you have different points of view, if a woman is maybe a man is a president and a woman is vice, you have different points of view because the woman see things differently and the man see things differently. And if you combine it together, you will have a positive and a reproductive system.
Julieta Martinez: Absolutely. And I 100% agree with you, I mean who understands better the problem that women and girls are facing than women and girls. There's no more time for other people to represent us. And following that same question, how can we get to girls and women that are from the most marginalized communities, that women that do not have access to internet, that woman that had been outside the conversation for so long, and they should have a seat at the table.
Peace Ayo: One thing that I also enjoy for me, I'm a community worker. If I want to talk about politics with these women, I go to the rural community. I meet them. I go to meet them. I don't invite them. I go to meet them. So I go to meet them where they are comfortable, so that way they will be able to open up to me and talk to me. Now, I don't go to meet them and impose my opinion. I go to meet them and have a conversation with them. And it will shock you that most of those women that I live in the rural area have brilliant ideas that actually make or build this nation. Now, if you just give them this opportunity for them to actually speak their mind, you actually know that okay, they have things to say. And also, I try as much as possible to get everybody involved. So anytime I'm doing something or want to talk about politics, I try to tell them that you cannot leave it for people to handle. You cannot say, okay, go, I will support you. You have to actually be the one championing the advocate. So that's what I try to encourage them, because there is responsibility, discipline in responsibility. So when someone has a responsibility, the person will be disciplined. And if this remains, that, okay, I have a responsibility to tell women about the importance of politics, about the importance of being politically involved. They will be disciplined, they will know their rights, and they will know where to come in and stuff like voat buying and stuff like that will calm down drastically.
Julieta Martinez: Ayo, let me tell you this right now. I'm so happy that you're getting into politics. I mean, there's so many people that know we should hear you. I should work with you especially. And this is actually I have a really personal question prepared for you, because this is something that every time you talk about the work that you're doing, you remind me of what I'm doing here in Chile. It's so interesting how we are like, literally one ocean away. There's so many connections, there's so many intersectionality in this wonderful way, right? How can you connect especially people that are older than you, like, older people that had been into politics for quite a while. And that same people that say no woman should be interested in politics, or woman or young people should wait a little bit, maybe ten years, 20 years, and then after this university, they could maybe think about getting into this world. I think that we are in the middle of the climate crisis, right? We have at least like six years to talk of the climate crisis. We're having problem with gender inequalities. How can you engage and work not only with based on intersectionality, but intergenerational work?
Peace Ayo: I think there's only the word that I like to see is that, catch them young. And I think one of the mistakes that most nations are making is that they don't introduce politics or the benefits of politics, democracy to young people. You don't tell them like, these things should be taught in schools. Like, starting to tell each child their roles that they should play in the society from five years is not a bad thing. Now having to implicate those ideology in that child, telling that child, okay, you have to pay your taxes when you grow up, you have to vote, you have to get your PVC, you have to do this, you have to do that. It may sound odd for the child at that particular moment, but as the child continues to grow, it sticks to their brain and they work with it. Now, for the older people who do not get the opportunity of having those conversations, it is not left for us to actually talk to them. And now the other generations do not do well with internet. For our generation we can just say let's have a Zoom meeting, let's have a chat, let's do this and we can connect and you can have so many people responding. But for the other generation you have to do, you have to go to committee meetings, talk to them in committee meetings. Like in my country they have women meetings. You go to women meeting and you talk to them when they are having some kind of Church meeting, mocks meeting, when they are gathering to discuss about something that is important and it's related to the good of the country. You go there and you talk to them about the importance of politics and how they can move, how their role can move the nation forward.
Julieta Martinez: Wonderful. Basically I feel like you're saying you got to adapt to like, we have to find a common language, right? You have to adapt to every single need. Especially for people that maybe they're not interested in the internet, but they are trying to make, to also have an active voice and a role in decision making, right? So, Ayo, we're running out of time. I don't even feel like this is a podcast. I feel this like an actual conversation and I need to get to meet you someday in person. So I need you to give me one final message that could be related to work and maybe that could be a shout out. Whatever you want, the floor is yours.
Peace Ayo: What I would say is that politics is something that is intertwined with our day to day living and we should stop seeing it as a one man game or we should stop seeing it as something that is not necessary because it's a necessity for everybody and everybody should get involved because if you leave out your voice, someone else will speak for you and will not speak what you want to say and that way, your voice and every dream and every ambition you have will die. So, we should start speaking out. We should start getting involved. Know the constitution of your country. Get to know it. It’s there. I’m sure every country has a constitution online, so get to know what your role is and how you can play it perfectly.
Julieta Martinez: That's a wonderful message. Thank you so much, and I wish you the best and your wonderful work in activism.
Closing: Thank you for tuning in to this special edition episode of the Changing The Face of Politics podcast series. To learn more about the series and NDI’s initiative, please go to NDI's website at www.ndi.org. Tune in to hear our additional interview from this special edition podcast as Peace Ayo interviews Chilean climate justice and gender equity youth activist, Julieta Martinez.