CALLING them endangered specie one may not be utterly wrong, given that violence, sexual abuse, early marriage, low access to education, gender discrimination, burden of house work and a host of others are travails mostly associated with the girl child and rural women.
Little wonder that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5) makes gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls as its focal point.
Typically,many Civil Society Organizations(CLOs),nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and others had, in the past,been in the vanguard of making cases for them ,lamenting and calling attention of government to the pains and plight.
Rather than joining this league ,watching helplessly and lamenting,an NGO is taking a bold step to change the narrative.
Accentuating the SDG 5, Global Initiative for Entrepreneurial and Capacity Development(GIECD), the NGO wing of International Centre for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development (ICLED), teamed up with Girl Rising Foundation of New York to raise voices for the Girl Child by organizing a conference aimed at economically empowering and consequently liberating them from the shackles of poverty.
ICLED, a USA/Nigerian-based organization, has been in the centre of educating people on entrepreneurship and leadership in Nigeria.
The conference which centred on education and empowering the girl child and rural women,titled: “The Unheard Voices”, was held at the historic Centenary Hall, Ake,Abeokuta,the Ogun State capital .
Speaking at the conference,the chairman of the occasion,the Alake of Egbaland and paramount ruler of Egba kingdom,Oba Adedotun Gbadebo,stressed that empowerment of the girl child and rural women was paramount .
Represented by Chief Layi Labode,the Aare Baaroyin of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo maintained that the girl child was very vital in an economy.
The traditional leader pointed out that if the girl child went to school and acquired skills, she would be useful to the community and the country. Saying,”It is not when you have factories you have economic growth”.
Emphasizing the need to invest in the girl child,the royal father said,
“training a girl child ,you’re training a nation”.
Stressing that production of some local produce such as Shea butter,coconut oil and others could rescue the girl child from poverty.
Oba Gbadebo lamented the plight of the girl child,saying she would be the last to take her birth and went to school late. Adding that:”The girl child takes care of the parents”.
The paramount leader lauded ICLED’s efforts,underscoring that it was an intervention to save the girl child and the councils involved from destruction.
He urged leaders in the local government councils to support ICLED’s NGO in its bid to save the girl child and rural women.
Stating that he would be happy if local councils could cooperate with the NGO to emancipate the girl child.
He said:”The NGO ( GIECD) is not only giving them fishes but teaching them how to catch to fishes.This is an opportunity for you. It is a veritable means of economic emancipation of our girls”.
In a goodwill message ,the Daranijo of Egbaland,Chief Lawrence Bankole,stressed the need for the youths to embrace vocational work,noting that white collar jobs are not available.
Delivering a keynote address, the Founder and Chairman of ICLED, Professor Olajumoke Familoni said around the world,girls face barriers to education which boys do not.
The university teacher however opined that educating girls could break the barriers of poverty
Speaking on the essence of the skills acquisition conference, the professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy, emphasized that the participants would use the skills to add value to themselves, the community and the national economy at large.
Highlighting some produce such palm oil and others which the participants acquired training on,the Business Management lecturer said:”We don’t have to be poor in Nigeria”.
The academic who had been a manufacturer for two decades in the United States of America unequivocally said the project would be a revolution that would change the participants’ and the nation’s fortunes for good. “We are going to start something here,a revolution”, the entrepreneurship teacher reiterated .
In a remark, a digital entrepreneur, Mr. Olusoji Ajao,charged the participants on the need to embrace social media platforms with a view to networking their businesses. Saying both digital and traditional marketing channels should be used for networking and creating awareness for their products.
Eventually, the participants were split into four groups comprising cocoa,cassava,palm oil and maize categories depending on their distinct interests.
The participants, who were drawn from various local government councils and local government development areas including Obafemi-Owode, Ota, Opeji, Ofada/Mokoloke, Odeda, Ifesowapo, Abeokuta South, Abeokuta South West and Abeokuta South East, lauded the organizer, ICLED NGO.
Some of the participants who spoke to journalists expressed high expectations from the conference and training. One of them ,Mr.Olaloye Damilola,who is a cassava farmer said the training would add value to his business and subsequently improve his farm yields. Another participant,Comrade Omotosho Abiodun,a teacher,who is a cassava farmer remarked that the training would improve his life.
Similarly, Mrs.Nowoola Olabisi who is in to cocoa production said she expected that the seminar would improve her businesses and increase her earnings and the standard of living.
On her part,Mrs. Shittu Olukemi ,the Ogun State Trainer of the Nigeria Girls’ Guide Association,who led some members of the Guide to the event said the training would give a lot of opportunities to the girl child to be useful to herself and the society. Adding that the girl child would not fall victim of teenage pregnancy.
In the same vein,a Political Science graduate who is a participant,Miss Sekinat Musa,stressed that the training would enable her to be financially independent.
The most strategic segment of the programme is the unveiling of plan with different products and discussion on implementation of strategies which was anchored by an ace broadcaster,Mrs. Olaitan Bakare of Sweet FM, Abeokuta.
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