In comparison to boys their age, girls aged 5 to 14 worldwide devote 160 million more hours per day to unpaid care and household duties. Again, the involvement of women in various sectors, including governance, has been threatened in recent times. These are two very alarming reports, according to UNICEF. Furthermore, the UN Women Report 2022 shows that women had only 3.6% of the seats in parliament as of 2021 in Nigeria.
The theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl was INVEST IN GIRLS’ RIGHTS: OUR LEADERSHIP, OUR WELLBEING, which was a perfect discussion about achievement, lags, and the proposed way forward for girls across the globe. A solidarity viewing party, an initiative of UNICEF and Plan International, was held to commemorate the day. Hence, on October 11, 2023, The Sapphires Development Initiative, in partnership with Girl Up Sapphires, hosted a solidarity viewing part simultaneously in three different locations and states (Ibadan, Ogun, and Akure) in southwestern Nigeria.
The solidarity viewing party followed the same pattern in all three locations. The three moderators (Omotolani Oluwole, Funmilayo Ajakaiye, and Christabel Maduka) began the event by welcoming everyone present and enlightening them about the purpose of the event. One of which was to raise awareness about inequalities between males and females and what everyone can do to bridge the gap. More emphasis was also placed on being trained, educated, and empowered for a fast-developing and evolving world. This is to ensure that the girl child is not left behind.
Following this, the girls connected to the live webinar by UNICEF in various cities and countries worldwide. One major highlight was hearing the different speakers, like Lauren Rumble, Chenor Bah, Catherine Makoni, Awa Faly, etc., encourage the girls further to be actively involved in the change, be open to adaptation, esteem their mental and physical health, and prioritize consent and protection, among other things.
After the webinar with UNICEF and Plan International, the participants were encouraged to speak about their experiences, and it was really satisfying to hear how much they learned. One participant (Dorathy Ojo) shared her understanding of the need for girl’s empowerment in discovering their rights. Another girl, Olamide, shared how girls should learn to speak up and also be the change they want to be.
Afterwards, an interesting conversation broke out at the different viewing centers with the girls. They were asked, “If you were given 1 billion dollars to spend on education, how much would you spend on girls rights? If you were the president for 72 hours, what would you change in Nigeria?” Some responses were written in sticky notes, while others were discussed. Then the facilitators (Ruth Bankole, Funmilayo Lemboye, and Adeola Oyewole) engaged the girls further and asked them to share experiences where they felt treated unfairly. More discussions erupted, and soon conclusions were drawn on the importance of understanding girls’ rights. Also, a 20-minute guided meditation session with WPI meditation was held to ensure that the girls were relaxed and calm. Some meditation experiences were shared in the end, and one was from Sukurat, who said I was so carried away that I wished the meditation never ended.
Over 130 girls participated in the solidarity viewing party organized by TSDI and Girl Up Sapphires. However, the main purpose of empowering these girls with the knowledge necessary to bridge the gender inequality gap was achieved. Much more, a sense of belonging, a form of girls’ solidarity in fighting for their rights, was reinforced. It was indeed a great time spent investing in girls’ rights and wellbeing.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL!!!