Recently, the Nollywood actress and girl-child advocate, Stephanie Linus launched a campaign: ‘Hygiene First: My New Habit’. The campaign is geared towards enlightening Nigerians to practice good hygiene particularly at a time when the world is dealing with the inscrutable coronavirus. In this chat with The Interview, the United Nations Population Fund Regional Goodwill Ambassador talks about the importance of hygiene and other milestones.
You recently launched a health campaign, can you tell us the story behind it?
The whole essence of ‘Hygiene First: My New Habit’ is to awaken our consciousness about our personal and community hygiene.
We want people to pay better attention to the habits that affect our health and environment and make better choices.
It starts with our behavior. We want everyone to know that the cleanliness of our environment is not someone else’s responsibility.
It is our collective responsibility as Nigerians to put in the work and achieve clean and healthy communities that we’re all proud of.
Several years ago, I earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and I didn’t know while studying that I’ll end up running a national campaign on hygiene and the environment.
The need for this is urgent and its benefits would be widespread.
What new habits apart from hygiene have you adopted in the lockdown?
I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection, thinking inwards about life, about impact, about solutions and about change.
The world has changed a lot in the last few weeks and surely, things are not going to be the same again. I’ve made changes in how I communicate and how I think about my future.
I’ve been thinking about the things that are in my power to change and what I can do about it. I’ve also been doing a lot of reading.
It’s not always easy to concentrate on that with all the distractions from the news and statistics we keep hearing, but I’ve been doing a lot to keep my mind busy. I’ve also been working from home.
What do you consider the biggest achievement of your movie ‘Dry’?
The biggest achievement with ‘Dry’ is that it generated conversations around the world, putting the spotlight on the African girl-child as well as the need to protect her.
It also addressed the issue of Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF), a disease that has plagued women and girls for many decades.
Apart from the awareness, ‘Dry’ is instrumental for the ban of child marriage in Gambia.
In a nutshell, we have done quite a lot, providing free fistula repair surgeries on over 200 women in different communities across Nigeria.
What sparked your interest in health and gender-related issues?
These are issues that concern me personally as a woman. I believe strongly in using one’s platform and voice to make a positive change and this is my own way of bringing the world’s attention to those issues.
How demanding is your role as an UNFPA regional ambassador?
It is demanding to a reasonable extent, but it is a platform that gives me a broader opportunity to do what I find extremely rewarding which is advocating for women and girls.
There is so much more to explore with this platform, and I look forward to creating more positive impact.
In Nollywood, would you say that females face different challenges than males irrespective of their talents?
I think everyone faces their own unique set of challenges, both male and female, but women are more vulnerable to some of these challenges. Like we find in most industries across the world.
Why do you regard your fans as Amazonians?
I call them Amazonians because that word symbolises a bunch of things I like to be known for such as powerful, glamorous, warrior, strong, sexy, fabulous and fearless.
It represents the character of someone who is not afraid of failures but sees them as stepping stones to success, someone who is a defender, someone who wants to change our world and make it better.
I see my fans this way and that’s why I call them Amazonians, to encourage them that they can be all that and more.