By Suoyo Ekubo
A Nigerian human rights lawyer, Oluwafunke Adeoye, has won the Waislitz Global Citizens’ Choice Award 2023. The Waislitz Global Citizen Awards is an annual cash prize totaling $250,000 that recognises the excellence of individuals in their work to end extreme poverty.
Adeoye is the Founder and Executive Director of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Hope Behind Bars Africa, closing the justice gap by providing free legal services and direct support to indigent incarcerated individuals while promoting criminal justice reforms through research evidence-based advocacy, and technology.
She is the first person working in the criminal justice sector to win the award, which comes with a prize of $75,000.
Adeoye was inspired to start Hope Behind Bars Africa in 2018 after her father was arrested and detained for a crime he did not commit. She saw firsthand the challenges that indigent incarcerated individuals face, and she was determined to do something to help.
Hope Behind Bars Africa has supported over 7,000 incarcerated individuals through its numerous interventions, ranging from providing access to justice to providing welfare, support, and rehabilitation for ex-inmates.
In a statement, Adeoye said: “With the Waislitz Global Citizen award, I plan to fully launch Justicepadi, a tech platform that will revolutionise legal aid in West Africa and expand the organisation’s work for justice-involved individuals.
“The Waislitz Global Citizen Awards are annual cash prizes totaling $250,000 that recognise the excellence of individuals in their work to end extreme poverty. The grand prize is $100,000 with two additional prizes at $75,000 each for a total of three prizes.
The awards are presented by the Waislitz Foundation and Global Citizen, and supported by the leading United States (U.S.) and Australian-based cellular medicines company, Mesoblast Limited and Unico Capital Holdings.”