As the whole world celebrates the international day of the Girl-Child today October 11, 2018, I join them to celebrate a group of people who brighten up our world. The girl-child has been neglected and relegated to the rear especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, little wonder our society thinks that our place is in the kitchen or the ‘other room’. I have never believed this to be true even in my childhood. This is why I feel sad when some view the world as a “man’s world” because it makes achieving greatness seem impossible. Even if when the girl-child finally achieve greatness, these set of individuals still consider it inappropriate. Oh! how wrong!
In November of 2013, I joined the Centre for Social Awareness, Advocacy and Ethics, Inc. (CSAAE) as a teenager. That marked a great turning point in my life because I joined an organization that strongly believes in the enormous potentials buried in the African Youth including the girl-child. I am truly grateful to CSAAE. The organization made me realize that irrespective of my gender, I can achieve whatever I dreamt of if I refuse to never give up and put in my best.
At CSAAE, quality education is considered a priority especially that of the girl-child and I am a living witness. From my first year in the university up till now that I am in final year, CSAAE has been paying my tuition fee through the “Nwayioma di na Mba” scholarship scheme. This scholarship enabled me to focus on my studies, make great grades and explore various opportunities that help me understand myself the better and contribute my quota towards making Nigeria and Africa at large a better place.
Not only does CSAAE recognizes the potential of the girl-child, but it also provides her with opportunities to blossom into greatness. One of such ways is providing the girl-child with leadership position in various capacities. This helps her recognize her inner strength at an early stage and put them to maximum use for a more fulfilled adult life.
In Africa especially the sub-Saharan region, the girl-child has limited access to mentorship, career guidance and entrepreneurship training which are crucial for transitioning into a confident adult with the right skills to survive in the highly competitive workplace. No wonder most women in Africa work in the informal sector with little or no pay and are constant victims of sexual, physical and psychological abuse. But at CSAAE, the girl-child is provided these crucial mentorship and training alongside her male counterpart. This is because of CSAAE’s strong conviction that a skilled girl-child with the right morals is indispensable in the growth and socio-economic development of Africa.
CSAAE has taught girls as well as boys, transferable skills such as self-confidence, critical thinking, teamwork, problem-solving, all of which are major prerequisites for one to succeed in our rapidly changing world. Through various training at CSAAE, I have evolved into a better version of myself. Prior to joining CSAAE, I never knew the importance of having a mentor but today I have the best mentor you can think of. His name is Rev Fr Dr. Godswill U. Agbagwa, a priest of the Most-High God who has helped me discover myself and constantly putting me on the right track towards achieving my dreams.
To all the girls out there, my future Scientists, Lawyers, Teachers, Ministers, Inspectors General of Police, CEOs, Managing Directors, Governors, Wives, Mothers, I love and celebrate you today. Though life may not seem easy to you at the moment, I just want you to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. So never stop doing that which makes you happy and puts smiles on your faces and others. Forget about the gender stereotype and focus on making your world bright and colorful. Always remember that God has made you strong and you can achieve whatever you set your mind to do. I just remember that our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but rather that we are powerful beyond measure.
To everyone out there whether male or female, in the words of Antonio Guterres, “let us recommit to supporting every girl to develop her skills, enter the workforce on equal terms and reach her full potential.”
Ekwonu Francisca Chinelo, (Effective African Leader at CSAAE).
University of Jos 2018.