The first ever project of The Sapphires Development Initiative in Northern Nigeria was organized on the 30th of November, 2022. This project was themed Raising the Adlers and it was held in Government Girls Primary School, Niger State, Nigeria with about 70 teenage mothers in attendance.
These teenage mothers were taught about their sexual and reproductive health, gender equality and how important it is to break stereotypes in their indigenous language (Hausa), thanks to an educated interpreter. Their thoughts on bodily autonomy and their sexual health were improved as explanations were made to the fact that their body is their sole right and decisions regarding their bodies need to be made by them alone.
Adequate emphasis was laid on improving their self-esteem and not believing the lies that one gender is superior or that because they are mothers, they should not be valued in society. Questions like: outside society’s beliefs, what would you like to become? Why? Do you think it is possible and How? were asked just to spur the desire to be better in these teenage mothers. The myths most of these girls had before the program about how males were superior or how they should not dream big were debunked. Also, the students shared their challenges with the facilitators about how combining education with motherhood was tasking and not getting any help from their husbands too or not being valued.
After this, teenage mothers were encouraged to give their best to their education because this is important in achieving their dreams. Some relatable examples were given to them about the success stories of a few Northern women who despite all odds were able to achieve their goals. Talking about Hajia Fatimah Kurfi (the 74-year woman with 4 children and 20 grandchildren who went back to school in the quest for knowledge), and also Dr Hadizah Galandaci (an obstetrician and Gynecologist at the Muritala Mohammed hospital) The stories of Binta Masi Garba (a Nigerian politician and first female state chairwoman of a registered political party) and also Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmad Rufa’i (the first woman for northern Nigeria to reach the rank of the wing commander in Nigeria). These stories were shared to motivate them to reach for their dreams and help society, therefore contributing to sustainable development.
In the end, the students shared what they learned and met with the facilitators (Omowunmi Olaleye, and Wemimo Davies) who explained further how to maximize their new decision about all they learned.
More phases of this project will be unveiled in the year 2023.