I had always envisioned creating a platform for girls to lead the conversation on issues affecting them, but it always seemed impossible to host such an event for girls. So, I was burning inside with this unique and creative event for girls to celebrate the International Day of the Girl 2016, but it was seeming impossible to access the funding and support to pull it off. Each time I pitched the idea, I would be told it was a fantastic idea, but it would be difficult to explain releasing funds to support an all-girls event that was not adult stakeholders discussing all those unending issues that always end at us talking at each other only to return and repeat the same process after a few months.
Eventually, I had to negotiate the Girl Summit to host school girls and some female top level government official. But, I feared most of those big personalities may not attend the event or drive the event to focus on them and only give little attention to the girls to shine and learn. Also, there was a huge tendency for the girls to close in at the presence of such dignitaries and they may not benefit much from the event at the end of the day. But, it was the only grounds to get the support we were looking for so we had to give in. Fortunately for us, the plan to engage the top level government officials did not work and at the last minute, we were expected to pull off a successful all-girls event. Little did our partners know that this was not only our dream all along, but we had prepared to pull it off the moment we had the chance to. And that was how we were thrust into hosting the Girl Summit 2016.
The event hosted 100 adolescent girls from public and private secondary schools in our community and the girls were facilitated to lead some creative activities like the singing of the National Anthem, and a poem about the challenge of child marriage. The girls were also encouraged to lead discussions on the topics of the day, 'Girls and the SDGs' which was facilitated by a young lady and World Pulse Sister, Olaoluwa Abagun and 'Connecting Girls Voices through Data' facilitated by young ladies who made excellent presentations to kick start the discussions. The girls took down their notes and they had a Communiqué Group who prepared the communiqué from the Summit and we are currently exploring pushing that communiqué within the development corridors in Nigeria. This is how we empower girls and position them as active voices advocating their issues.
Our team (shout out to Ritkatmwa Gwan and Linda Oyedele) devoted the day to the girls and made sure the ambience matched the spirit of the celebration and put the girls in a warm, relatable space that they could own and pride in as they learned new things. And some of the voices of the girls testified to the way the aura and the ambience enriched their learning experience while leaving them proud to be girls. For almost all the girls in the room, they had never attended an event like that where the participants were all girls talking about issues affecting girls. Also, the girls learned about the sustainable development goals and how it affects girls as well as the potential that lies in connecting girls voices through data so that the power in their numbers can strengthen the need to address issues that concern them.
We enjoyed a successful event that has set a precedence we hope to improve on in the next celebration of the International Day of the Girl 2017. And the girls are at the forefront of creating new ideas for the future celebrations. Let's continue to Make Girls Voices Count!
How to Get Involved
Follow Girls Voices online and on social media.