By Oluwafunke Ishola
Lagos, Nov. 9, 2020 The Executive Director, Action Health Incorporated (AHI), an NGO, Mrs Adenike Essiet says empowering the girl-child is critical to achieving socioeconomic change in communities and the world at large.
Essiet said this during the graduation of “Girls’ Leaders’’ under the Girls’ Voice Initiative (GVI) programme on Monday in Lagos.
The GVI programme is a leadership and advocacy programme that builds the capacity of adolescent girls’ between the ages of 10 and 19 to lead advocacy efforts on issues that affect them.
The programme was in collaboration with Action Health Incorporated and Rise UP, to enhance the capacity of the girls to become leaders and change agents in their respective communities.
Essiet said that the programme had provided opportunities for the 60 graduates to discover their potential, and how they could use advocacy to drive positive change in their communities.
According to her, to confer meaningful advantage on teens, teaching them to be effective leaders is an area of great opportunity.
She said that the girls during their training embarked on various advocacy projects on issues of sexual harassment, menstrual hygiene, improving wellbeing of out-of-school children, domestication of child protection policy in schools, and elimination of child marriage, among others.
Essiet noted that the girls through the projects got the commitment of community and religious leaders, legislators, executives, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), and other stakeholders to collaborate and proffer solutions to the issues.
According to her, positive outcomes from the projects have been achieved and will be built upon to ensure sustainable progress in identified areas.
Also speaking, Mrs Theresa Effa, the Country Director, Rise Up, said that the programme provided a platform to build the skills of the girls in advocacy, identifying issues in their communities, amplifying their voices, public speaking, and engagement with policy makers.
She said that the programme activates girls to transform their lives, families and communities for a more just and equitable world.
Effa noted that this was done through investment in local solutions, strengthening leadership, and building movements.
She expressed delight at the success recorded by the project, saying it had emboldened the girl’s leaders and led to positive transformation of communities.
Commenting, Miss Victoria Benedict, one of the graduates, said that the programme had motivated her to speak up for girl’s rights issues.
“I have been working to end child marriage in Makoko Community of Lagos. We have gotten the community leaders to commit to ending harmful practices and reporting offenders to necessary authorities.
“The GVI programme made me to realise that our voices are powerful and when used properly, we can change our community and the world,’’ Benedict said.