Our girls are becoming leading ladies. I'm truly proud of them. To showcase their uncommon strength and ability, we decided to celebrate the IWD 2019 in grand style. Our theme was apt and catchy; Time is Now: Girls As Change Agents. Our campaign slogan was also smart and sweet:#SheCanLead
The first phase was with a Girls Summit featuring over 200 girls from 8 secondary schools in Ijegun, Ikotun, Lagos State. As it is in most underdeveloped communities ravaged by poverty and lack, many girls are vulnerable. There is hunger in the land; yes, there is acute hunger and lack of basic amenities. Here many are uninformed about their rights and the beautiful opportunities available to them. Here many girls battle with low self-esteem and easily fall prey to the chimes and caprices of devourers and opportunists
You can therefore imagine how excited they were when we invited girls in Ijegun community to a special girls' summit. Yes, we had a swell time, with insightful and inspiring talk from my ever resourceful and diligent friend, Mrs Foluso Adedeji, a top management staff at Access Bank, Nigeria who challenged the girls to be focused and committed to pursuing a brilliant career and achieving greatness like Malala Al-Yousef. Miss Asubiaro Olayinka also captured the attention of the girls with her very practical and down-to-earth lecture on adolescence and sex; touching on their sexual reproductive developmental changes and needs.
On my part, I gave an insightful talk on the need for our girls to stand tall and form a formidable team. I also challenged them to be the change ambassador that would lead their families out of poverty and backwardness as they maintain a life of integrity, study hard and acquire necessary life skills in order to lead successful life.
We also attended to numerous questions from the girls, bothering on issues relating to menstruation, sex, rape, protection from all forms of abuse and how to deal with peer pressure. The questions came in torrents and the answers were so practical and thrilling that the girls didn't want to go home again. Of course, they also entertained us with songs, choreography and drama.
The second phase of the Girls Summit held a week after in a public school- Ijeododo Senior Grammar School, with about 276 girls in attendance. They were equally thrilled with the life story of our guest speaker- Mrs. Seyi Ayesa, a Marketing Manager with Friesland Capina, one of the multinational beverage companies in Lagos, Nigeria.
It was an even more exciting session, especially with the support of the management and staff of the school.
Shout out to my dear Friend, Bim Adegbite, who I met on the World Pulse platform in 2016 and decided to partner with us by providing a mentorship program for the girls in our club. Bim Adegbite and her team of mentors on the Apinke Girls Initiative have since been very supportive in nurturing and encouraging the girls to be the best. Their immense contribution and donations towards the success of the program in highly appreciated.
Profound gratitude also goes to some local corporate organizations like- Rite Foods, Beloxxi Foods, Cadbury PLC for surprising us with surplus supply of snacks and beverages for the girls.
I also celebrate all our Staff and Volunteers that worked tirelessly to ensure that all went well. How about our sweet and bubbling young ladies at the Girls Arise Club who stood firm to coordinate and ensure the smooth running of the program. I appreciate you loads.
How exciting? There were assorted gifts to take away- Food, drink, water, gala, buscuits and of course sanitary pad for every girl.
Much more, our girls left with a renewed mindset; positive self-esteem, powerful self confidence and determination to be overcome all hurdles and to be game-changers!
One of our girls, Chiamaka Ezeigbo later captured her feeling of excitement and strength and wrote thus, "We are Priceless, We are Unique, We are Beautiful, We are Creative, We are Brave, We are Strong, We are Bold, We've got Passion, We are Girls, We Lead, We Arise to Stand, We are Unstoppable, We are Agents of Change".
Obviously, Chiamaka and other girls in the club are transformed and ready to transform their communities for the better.
I celebrate you girls! I’m so proud of the leading ladies you all are becoming You've got greatness! You've got what it takes to lead your world. You are stars in the making. You are the Amazons for the generation next.
Yes, you can! Yes, you will!