MY VOICE, OUR EQUAL FUTURE: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL CHILD 2020

The International Day of the Girl Child 2020 was done in partnership with Nathaniel Albert Foundation. We hosted teenage girls and young women from four villages across Akinyele LGA. The program started at exactly 10: 00 am with thirty eight (38) participants present. One of the participants opened the event by saying a prayer and welcome address taken by Ajimisogbe Bolade, the Catalyst Coordinator at Bramble Learning Space. IDGC 2020 event planning and execution was led by Bolade, who is passionate about Girl Child Education and Empowerment.

This was followed by a power spoken word presentation from Adeayo Omoyemi, who is also a Catalyst at Bramble Learning Space. The presentation titled, “MY VOICE, AN EQUAL FUTURE” was centered on the long history of silence associated with the girl child. She showed us how a girl was put on the backseat, called dependent and not allowed free expression in the public. Found her voice when she realized the kind of future she can have and began to speak for up for herself. We had a quiz session to highlight Female Heroes in Nigeria. It is shocking to see that most of the girls present did not know any female hero.   

The guest speaker for the day was Rev. Mrs. Agboaye Rita. She spoke on Education and Health of the Girl Child. The session was an eye-opener for many of us. She mentioned that sometimes back, a relative of her classmate gave birth and after congratulating the classmate who happened to be male, she enquired about the gender of the child. The classmate said ‘half-current’; of course, she was curious to know which new gender that was. The classmate then explained that in his family and society, girl child are considered ‘half-current’ while boys are ‘full-current’ because they have much more potentials. We all had our mouth agape to hear such primitive mindset about the girl child is still prevalent in this generation.

We also heard stories of parents denying their girls education and preferring to marry them off since they are believed to eventually end up in the kitchen as home maker. Sadly, many of the girls believed that about themselves too. The questions that followed led to a very robust discussion amidst participants. This session lasted for about one hour.

We later introduced representatives from our partner organization, Kemi Adesina and Lara Gbadebo. Kemi Adesina is the founder of Nathaniel Albert Foundation, a trained environmentalist and also an active advocate for women financial empowerment, while Lara Gbadebo is a fine-artist deeply involved in making creative art pieces and inspiring mural across Nigeria. They took a participatory session on menstrual hygiene. Kemi started what seems to be perfect hashtag #MyMenstruationStory in the room and encouraged girls to talk about their first time menstruating. What was common amongst all the girls was that ‘Nobody prepared us’ for menstruation. For some of the adolescence girls who had not started menstruating, they were too shocked to see the various materials and knowledge to have for menstrual hygiene. They were later trained on how to make reusable sanitary pads.

There were verbal testimonies from the participants who talked about how much they learnt during the program. Each person present went home of a bag full of useful hygiene and educational materials. Each girl got a pack of sanitary pad and soaps. The program ended at exactly 12:30pm with prize presentation to the invited school and group pictures.

What was our major challenge organizing this event? This was the first time such event will be held in our community hence, we were not sure how many girls would attend. This is because, most often in our past experiences girls are usually told to wait behind at home to cook or take care of younger siblings while boys attend useful meetings. We had to intensify our awareness.  We are glad to have representatives from Iroko Community Grammar School which happened to be the only secondary school in the whole region.

We look forward to having more of this conversation in 2021.

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