Ayodeji Osowobi has been helping thousands of sexual and domestic abuse victims through Stand To End Rape.
She was presented with the award by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth Secretariat’s London headquarters.
She also received a prize of £5,000, which she will use to expand her activities in Nigeria.
Oluwaseun, herself a survivor of sexual violence, set up the Stand to End Rape Initiative (STER) to provide support to women, men and young people who have experienced any form of gender-based abuse.
She said: “This award reminds me that when young people don’t look away in the face of injustice, and say ‘no’ to cultural biases, we have the capacity to create change because we are magic.
“Winning this award encourages me to keep working hard to build a safe community for women, girls and men in Nigeria and that my story is valid.
“To my team and I, the award is a reminder that our work is seen, felt and should not stop now.”
Oluwaseun explained: “Our organisation provides medical, legal, mental health and psychosocial support, and empowerment services – depending on the requirement. In certain instances, we provide shelter access and financial support to survivors.
“Having experienced sexual violence myself, I understand the cultural barrier of speaking up, and the lapses or lack of services available.
“This award is a reaffirmation that elimination of sexual violence in Nigeria and other Commonwealth Countries is important and a core agenda of the Commonwealth Secretariat as we work towards achieving a ‘Connected Commonwealth’.”
The Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work aim to raise the profile and highlight the contribution young people make to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Examples range from poverty alleviation to conflict prevention and resolution, to promoting and enhancing democracy and development.