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Photo: Nolis Anderson for NPR
Lola Omolola is the founder of FIN, a private Facebook group with nearly 1.7 million members that has become a support network for women around the globe.

Today I offer another example of what the Power of One can accomplish.

Aarti Shahani writes at National Public Radio about “Lola Omolola, an ebullient 41-year-old Nigerian-American woman, … the founder of FIN, a private Facebook group — with nearly 1.7 million members — that has become a support network for women around the globe. FIN originally stood for Female in Nigeria, but as its reach grew to other countries, Omolola recast it simply as Female IN.

“Its genesis can be traced to 2014, when nearly 300 girls were kidnapped from a boarding school in Nigeria by the Boko Haram militant group.

” ‘Whenever I turned on the radio and television, everyone was talking about the terrorism angle,’ recalls Omolola, who grew up in Lagos and now lives in Chicago.

“For her, the kidnapping represented the worst form of patriarchy: men were targeting young women for getting an education. … She turned to Facebook and started the group.

” ‘I didn’t know what I was going to do,’ she says. ‘I just knew I wanted to find them at the very least, so that I wouldn’t be by myself, because I felt really lonely.’

“But Omolola turned that loneliness into action. The group scaled up quickly. First she invited friends, who invited friends. She organized real-world meetups and encouraged women to respond to each other respectfully. Omolola also shared stories she found on the Internet, mostly on Facebook and Twitter, about women’s issues.

“One story was about a woman in Nigeria who wanted to get her hair cut short, like a boy. The hairdresser told her she needed a permission slip from her husband first. Omolola posted the story, figuring FINsters (as she calls them) would likely discuss it, ‘like pundits do,’ she says.

“But that’s not what happened. Instead, women started sharing their own similar experiences in the comments thread. …

“FIN has taken on far heavier issues too, like domestic violence. Before the #MeToo movement broke the silence around widespread sexual assault, FIN encouraged women to share their stories. ‘Most of us just didn’t realize how widespread the practices were because we’d normalized them,’ Omolola says.” …

“Omolola’s success with FIN comes from a few strategies: curating interesting stories and encouraging women to respond to each other. She and others organize real-world events where group members can meet. … Strict ground rules are enforced by a team of more than two dozen moderators. Among the rules: do not judge, do not share outside the group, do not give unsolicited advice. …

“For Omolola, Facebook is a godsend — a technology that enabled an immigrant woman in Chicago to have a global voice. She believes the platform can be used for a lot of good — if that’s what’s in people’s hearts.”

More stories from the group at NPR, here.

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