I was asked to talk about “GIRLS AT RISK”, an area I am very passionate about, and here’s what I shared.
Supporting girls for me is a calling, and when I say “girls”, I mean adolescents, teenagers, and young adults in their early to mid-twenties.
Girls are special and very delicate, and the most critical stage of their life is the adolescent stage. Between the ages of 10 – 19, and sometimes earlier than that, girls transit into womanhood. All of a sudden, they begin to develop physically and psychologically; they become aware of their sexuality, have mood swings, and want to gain independence which is most times termed as rebellion.
At this stage, there is pressure to engage in high risk behaviours, which would ultimately cause more weighty issues for these girls.
So what risks are girls exposed to?
The girl child is exposed to a myriad of risks; some within her control, and some outside her control. Many times they have to battle with drugs, alcohol, depression, parental neglect, emotional abuse, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, STDs, genital mutilation, unintended pregnancies, and early marriage to name a few. The sad thing is that each one of these behaviours, if not properly handled, may lead to infections, more depression and ultimately, death.
Regardless of the discrimination towards this group of people, we need to understand that these girls are human, they have dreams and aspirations like every other person on the street, and they need our support; first to educate them on the consequences of their actions, secondly, to help gain their self-esteem back, have a new vision for life, and lastly, to empower them to fulfil their dreams.
At Father’s Girls, a cause/advocacy group I run, we have been able to understand what these girls go through, and have chosen to look into an area where most people and organizations in Africa may not delve into, and it is the support for pregnant teenagers and single mother between the ages of 14-24. With 5 years of exposure into this area we believe in having many chances in life and we want to give them another opportunity to create a desirable future.
So what have we done recently?
We have 2 ladies we are currently working with.
The first is a 22 year old lady who has a 3 year old daughter. Her highest educational qualification is S.S.C.E (12th Grade). She is interested in fashion and also very determined to attend a fashion school. A few days ago, we assisted her in getting a job, and by April, her daughter would resuming in a school. This is to empower her to take care of herself, her daughter and eventually other girls at risk.
The second lady is in the same circumstance. She is yet to get a job, so we support her regularly with a stipend so that the mother and child can have their basic needs met.
My Charge to the society
Discriminating against young mothers is adding to the problem. Some schools are publicly shaming pregnant teens in front of their peers and suggesting they go to an alternative programs. Then there is all this talk about how pregnant teens drop out of school. Some even have to get odd jobs to fend for themselves. Who would not be depressed after hearing that broken record played day after day? They feel condemned already for getting pregnant at a young age. Some are disowned, thrown on the streets, and left to take care of themselves and their unborn child.
Are we in support of illicit sex or girls getting pregnant out of wedlock? Of course not. We need to bring society together instead of dividing it because discrimination from society is not working. Everyone needs to realize the cause and effect of discrimination. We need to be a part of the solution, not add to the problem. For just a few seconds think like a teen parent and put yourself in someone else’s shoes beside your own. These girls are young, and need the support of their parents and older women to help them through the process.
If you would like to be a part of this initiative, you can speak to me on 08090980600.