by Yinka Balogun
This campaign is to raise funds to be able to help empower the Girl Child in Africa.
I attended what was once, the best school in Nigeria. I graduated about 26 years ago. It was an all-girls boarding school in the heart of Lagos. However, a recent event at my old school, broke my heart and was the motivation i needed to take the necessary action with a view to actualizing this dream i have nurtured for a long time.
Back in the days when i attended secondary school, the world was a much better place. Today, the story is different. Our children are exposed to much more and it has become imperative, that we do and invest so much more in their well-being and character-building, in order for them to successfully go through life.
Today, many schools like my old school, are struggling. They are starved of the necessary funds to be able to maintain the standards. The sanitary facilities are deplorable. The classrooms and teaching facilities are of the lowest standards. Specialty rooms like laboratories, libraries, music, geography rooms and so on are not equipped. As if all that is not bad enough, the quality of leadership has nosedived. All these things, have a massive negative effect on the academic achievement and social development of young girls.
Girls are sexually molested and harassed in their school environment, where ideally they should be kept safe and come to. to get an education. There was a particular case of 3 girl children developing mental issues as a result of the trauma of molestation. If only they had someone to turn to before things got out of hand. If only they were not too afraid to speak up. If only they did not try to deal with it all on their own. If only they did not feel they will be blamed. If only they just had a mentor that somehow kept abreast with events in their lives. If only they had someone they knew was there for them and that they could trust to open up to.
In communities where less emphasis is placed on education, teenage girls drop out of school to get married, despite the potential life-threatening health risks, like VVF. Some are waiting to get older, so they can be smuggled away by criminal rings and taken to far away continents to ‘earn a living’. Others find themselves lured into ‘baby factories, where they go to, are raped and impregnated, then have to sell the baby once it is born. It is a heart-breaking tragedy that children can be put through this.
We need to be more proactive and do not need to wait till the damage is done, before we realise how difficult it is to fix the problem, after the act. The lack of pro-activeness is causing too much damage in society. It is in seeking a proactive and sustainable solution, that I put this campaign forward to you, in order to give the Girl Child that someone that can guide her, nurture her, build her up, empower her and who she can feel safe with.
The Girl Child in Nigeria is particularly exposed to the elements. Gender equality is not even up for debate. It came up in the Senate and was dismissed, with some conveniently quoting religious text as justification for suppression and inequality. The patriarchal nature of the Nigerian society, puts the girl child in a particularly vulnerable position. The absence of sound education, character-building and the necessary skills and mindset to face life ahead, further compounds the problem. Ours has become a society where the Girl Child’s voice is increasingly unheard and often times, she is unable to achieve her full potential. The absence of more independent voices that can speak up for her is a tragedy. The African Girl Child needs to be liberated and empowered.
I am looking to help empower the Girl Child in Africa, by establishing a mentoring program for young girls. It will be set up for girls in secondary school. Girl Child Africa will also work in collaboration with community-based projects to be able to give that extra bit of informal education to girls.
The goal is to provide a safe place the girl child can turn to when she is afraid, when she in danger of being sexually harassed, when she is unsure of herself or when she is in need of general, academic and social advice. Somewhere she is sure to receive guidance. For the older girls, Girl Child Africa will encourage them to continue their pursuit of all-round education, by connecting them with scholarships, colleges, universities and internships. Our focus will be her and how she can be the best she can be in life. It is important that in today’s world, the girl child is reassured of the fact that there are people out there looking out for her and cheering her on. She needs to know she is not an object. Most importantly, she needs to be confident in her ability and know there is a future out there for her and her gender is not an impediment to achieving her goals and dreams in life. Please, let us help the Girl Child together.
The advantages of the Mentoring Program is that The Girl Child is empowered. This will inevitably contribute to reducing the many ills that plaque the society; prostitution, child marriage, child labour, baby factories and so on.
I also hope to be able to assist schools in providing computers, books, musical equipment and other items that will facilitate the learning experience and make school a more interesting place to be.
The Girl Child needs your help. Please contribute whatever you can to this worthy cause, nothing is too little. I will appreciate if you can help further by sharing this campaign with your contacts via email, Facebook, twitter and other platforms.
Below are links to an article and a research paper, which highlight some of the challenges the Girl Child faces in Nigeria;
There is also a video attached for your viewing.
Thank you so much.