G4G: Career women as enablers for girls’ empowerment, self esteem
I have learnt about self-awareness like knowing myself, the kind of appropriate attitude I should display and the ones I should not. I also learnt how to knit, bake cake, make chin-chin and shoes,” says Aina’u Attahiru, a 10-year-old primary six pupil of Nazzamiya Model Primary School, Anka Zamfara State. “I also know the difference between me as a girl and a boy in terms of genes and behaviours,” she said. “Ladies witness the monthly period while boys do not; even though I have not experienced it yet, I have been taught how to take care of myself when the time comes,” she also said.
Aina’u can now produce reusable sanitary pad, has self-esteem, observes personal hygiene like washing of hands and brushing of teeth and she said all these were possible because of the new education empowerment programme of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the ‘Girl for Girl’ (G4G). According to her, G4G is empowering girls with life skills and encouraging young girls in school to remain until they complete it so they can be better in the future. Aina’u is one out of the over 15,000 primary school girls in Zamfara, Bauchi and Katsina states who have pledged to complete their education through the G4G initiative, which uses career women and mothers associations to champion the cause of girl child education. G4G is a school-based safe space, extra curriculum activity programme initiated by UNICEF with support from UKAID, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Education, Universal Basic Education Commission and State Universal Basic Education Board launched about a year ago. One of the women groups that are actors in the training and mentoring of the girls is High Level Women Advocate (HiLWA), a group of women who have excelled in their various careers. Speaking to journalists at a media dialogue organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Culture in Zamfara State, Secretary General of HiLWA, Halima Ibrahim Maigari, said women play a very vital role in empowering girls’ education through G4G. “G4G is one area that we are working on, because for the young girls they need people to inspire them, they need people they could see and look up to. HiLWA women normally role model for G4G to tell the girls our stories so that they will aspire to be like us,” she said. She explained that besides the girls’ normal sessions, they taught them vocational skills such as how to make pomade, car wash, beads, doughnut and others, adding, “but we told them we are not teaching them those skills for them to leave school, but just to equip them for the future. For Aisha Abdullahi of Community Action for Popular Participation (CAPP) who is programme officer for G4G in Katsina State, G4G aside promoting enrollment and retention of girls in schools also empowers them for the future and helped them stand up for themselves. Speaking on the training received by the girls, she said the empowerment skills have improved their economic status explaining, “We have girls that are using it for business; aside from that, we also taught them on assertiveness, and gender confidence among others which they are also exhibiting one after the other.” She said the girls did not talk before but now they can stand up for themselves to say what they want or do not want.