Featured Storyteller

NIGERIA: Girl Child, Spell Out a Vision for Your Future

Olanike Adesanya
Posted September 7, 2021 from Nigeria
Photo © iEARN-USA CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

As the founder of the No Girlchild Must Dropout campaign, Olanike Adesanya helps girls to dream big and create plans for the future.

“I tell the girls I work with that bright and good futures don't just happen by chance; they come by design.

As a young girl, I thought my future would take shape naturally. Little did I know that for a girl child to have a promising future, she needs to start working toward her vision as early as her teens. 

It took me 50 years to realize that a girl child has to spell out a vision for her future. Now, I work across schools and churches in Nigeria, educating, sensitizing, and empowering teenage girls before they become adults and marry. My campaign is called No Girlchild Must Dropout (NGMD). I tell the girls I work with that bright and good futures don't just happen by chance; they come by design.

I help girls envision a new future for themselves so that they can make it reality — because in my case, nobody told me to think about my future. The closest I had was my mother warning me to study, keep my body clean, and maintain my virginity. "Don't come home with a pregnancy that would disturb your academics because the moment you get pregnant, you stop being my responsibility,” she warned me. 

My mother’s warnings worked. They instilled in me the kind of fear I needed to work hard and concentrate on my studies. Her warnings pushed me to achieve the academic excellence she and I desired. "If any man is seriously interested in you, let me meet him first before you say yes to his deceit,” my mother once said. “He must not wear a single tribal mark on his cheeks.” It sounded as if the fallacy mattered – that a good husband was determined by clean cheeks. 

Nobody had ever sat me down and asked me what I wanted for my future or what I envisioned for my life once I no longer lived with my parents. As an average student, I believed that as I grew up, things would fall in place. ​​​​​All I did was study and pass exams. I did what I was supposed to, but not enough to create a purposeful future. 

I met ambitious, successful people who knew what they wanted to be.  Doctors, pharmacists, engineers, nurses, accountants – name the profession, and they became it. All of these people around me had dreams, mentors, and plans for what they wanted to become in the future…. except for me.

I had no vision for my future. No dream. No plan. I was just taking the next thing as it came most times. I remember wanting to buy a Jeep, like a lady I admired so much. It was the closest thing I had to a dream, but I had no idea how to achieve it. 

When I grew up, I graduated from the university, became an account executive, and met my husband. Yet, I wasn't able to buy the Jeep until I added an incidental vocation. The Beijing Women's Conference and Millennium Development Goals around gender equality and women’s empowerment inspired me. I picked up my pen and wrote a fictional story in my mother tongue, Yorùbá, supporting gender equality. 

My story, "Odun A Yako?" was published and recommended for Junior Schools Examination by the National Examination Council of Nigeria. With copies of my story going to schools across the country, I required a vehicle to distribute them. I finally got the Jeep. This experience led me to believe that if I had a better dream than buying a Jeep at that time, I could have achieved it. 

And so, I have made it my mission to help girls in my community dream of a future. My findings reveal that in Southwest Nigerian public schools, at least three out of every 10 girls drop out before 12th grade (middle school). While a small portion of girls who drop out learn a trade, they will often marry young. 

About four of the seven other girls who stay in school find their way to tertiary institutions. Unfortunately, by Southwest Nigerian standards, a high school degree no longer earns the holder work beyond a housemaid, and those who receive post-secondary degrees are grossly unemployed. 

Nigeria is now more of a consuming economy than a producing one. We have fewer production line jobs that gainfully employ young people. I want girls to be well informed so they can make decisions to benefit their future. 

Through No Girlchild Must Drop Out,  I make information available at schools and churches. I share anonymous, personal experiences of women who have missed a thing or two about their future because of negligence, lack of access to useful information, and a nonchalant attitude. As a fiction author, I reach out to vulnerable girls through stories, which helps them connect to what they’re learning and pass exams.

I also pick up the responsibility of paying fees and bills for students who struggle financially. I strongly believe that increased dropout rates among girls, paired with poverty and illiteracy, contribute to domestic violence. If all girls had the opportunity to gain an education and skills to plan for the future, they would be bound to excel in their professions and less likely to end up in domestic violence situations.   

I would have loved to discover my love of writing and teaching girls earlier in life. Yet, I’m grateful I can help other girls pursue their dreams through No Girlchild Must Dropout.

A girl child must choose a purpose for her living and stir her efforts towards achieving this vision. A Jack of all purposes is good, but a master of one is better. When a girl child spells out her vision, she becomes aligned with her life purpose. 

STORY AWARDS

This story was published as part of World Pulse's Story Awards program. We believe every woman has a story to share, and that the world will be a better place when women are heard. Share your story with us, and you could receive added visibility, or even be our next Featured Storyteller! Learn more.

Comments 23

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Olanike Adesanya
Sep 07
Sep 07

I repeat it,
No Girlchild Must "Dropout".
That's the pivot for the much clamoured Gender Balance and for making the world a better place live.
Thanks be to World Purse for the Featured Storyteller.

Susu Mohamed
Sep 08
Sep 08

Hi, Sister Olanjke,

"Unstoppable vision" congratulations Featured Story telling.
I am looking forward reading more your Org. activities.
Best Regards,
Suu

Olanike Adesanya
Sep 08
Sep 08

Grateful, my sweet Sister, for your nice words.

Jill Langhus
Sep 08
Sep 08

Hi Olanike,

What a great mission and purpose you have. Thanks for sharing and congrats on having your story featured!!!

Looking forward to seeing more posts from you and learning more about the impact you're making:-)

Olanike Adesanya
Sep 08
Sep 08

Thank you so much Jill.
By God's GRACE.
❤️

Jill Langhus
Sep 10
Sep 10

You're very welcome, dear. XX

Great job

Sep 08
Sep 08
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
Olanike Adesanya
Sep 08
Sep 08

Thank you my Dear.

Hello sister I envy you. That's so wonderful of you and one thing I will say is that thank God for your mom and for making her own effort to see you go through your education. You are be blessed with you having your mom by you when growing up because she played her role as a mother to give you advise and educate you.
What a darling mom she is. How I wish I was amongs the lucky ones as you. I am so happy for you. Keep it up sister God will continue to strengthen you in all you are doing.
My Regards.

Olanike Adesanya
Sep 08
Sep 08

Wow!
Thank you my Darling Sister for your kind words.
I will surely tell Mom of your feelings about her efforts.
Much❤️, Sis.

Nini Mappo
Sep 09
Sep 09

Congratulations Olanike!! This story is so powerful. I identify with the shalloweness of dreams that keep us small, like buying a jeep. These girls are so blessed to have you guiding them and pointing them to possible dreams they never even thought of, dreams of 'being', not of' having'.
Kudos for all you are doing. Future generations will speak of your work, others will live it out. Now, that's impact!!

Olanike Adesanya
Sep 10
Sep 10

Exactly my Dear Sister.
People like us missed it so, I think the upcoming generation shouldn't, in the least.
Thanks Mini.

Busayo Obisakin
Sep 10
Sep 10

Well done my friend, keep up the good work. I am so glad you are thriving here
Love
Busayo

Olanike Adesanya
Sep 10
Sep 10

Sweet Sis
I feel you with
Much .
Thanks.

SUZAN
Sep 11
Sep 11

Awesome job Olanike. Continue to be a light to these girls.

Olanike Adesanya
Sep 11
Sep 11

Thanks, dear Suzan.
Much

Regina Afanwi Young
Sep 12
Sep 12

Dear sister congratulations on your story award. Thank you for your passion and selflessness to empower young girls early enough and your great desire to use your own life experiences to make the world a better place for these girls.
You are right about," a master of one better" So much lessons learnt from your write up.
Hope you are keeping well and safe
Love*** Regina

Olanike Adesanya
Sep 13
Sep 13

Thanks Sis for your nice comments.
I am heeding your advice.
Please stay safe too.
Much
Olanike.

Abimbola Abatta
Sep 15
Sep 15

This is not only inspiring, but it is also thought-provoking, ma. I'm glad you took the initiative to advocate for the education of the girl child. It is commendable.

I also wish I know some of the things I know now when I was a teenager, but I have learnt from your story that it is never too late. As women who understand the impact of education, we must encourage girls to go to school.

Thank you for all that you do, ma. Thank you for being phenomenal, for writing your vision and running with it. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story too. I am inspired.

Olanike Adesanya
Sep 16
Sep 16

Firstly, lemme welcome you to World Pulse.
I trust your pen.
Thank you Sweetie for your kind words.
Much ❤️

Manasa Ram Raj
1:43am
1:43am

Great campaign, dear Olanike! To take your life experience and use it to help young women and girls is incredible work, and I am so inspired. The girls you work with are so blessed to have you as their guiding mentor. Thank you for all the great impact, and we'd love to keep hearing more about all that you do!

Olanike Adesanya
7:40am
7:40am

Awhhh.
I am blushing...
Thank you Manasa for your kind acolades.
You're so much encouraging.
God helping me,
Discovering World Pulse was wonderful.
Much Love Sis.