The Impacting Nigerian Series is here again this week with another beautiful story. ICYMI, over the past few months, we’ve been bringing you stories of initiatives run by young Nigerians who are working to create change and make a positive impact especially in the areas of education, literacy and girlchild development.
Today we bring you the story of a Girl Child interest NGO by name “Girl Child Care Advancement Initiative and the founder Oiza Alonge. Do enjoy the read.
Q. Good Day Oiza (oops I just revealed your name!), Please can you tell us about yourself?
A. Well, you’ve already said my name. I’m a graduate of banking and finance, a chartered marketer and a professional human resource and project manager. I’m 22 years old and I’m the founder and president of a non-governmental organisation called Girl Child Care Advancement Initiative. I’m passionate about helping people connect with the opportunities that they need, the idea that my efforts toward positive change can produce a ripple effect of continuous progress keeps me motivated.
Q. You are most notable for your work in the Girl Child Care Advancement Initiative? Can you tell us how that came about?
A. There are a lot of gender disparities in various sectors around the world and this is a cause that has been getting a lot of focus in recent times. In Nigeria particularly there are different factors that impede the development of the girl child as opposed to their male counterparts; poverty and cultural stereotypes to name a few amongst others. As an individual that is passionate about development with emphasis on the girl child I decided in 2018 that it was time to do more than complain about the things I didn’t like to see. I decided to do my part to change a faulty narrative.
Q. Why Did you start the Girl Child Care Advancement Initiative? What was the need and why did you choose that particular need?
A. When I say I’m passionate about development I’m speaking in regards to Nigeria as this is my immediate environment. In the words of Malala Yousafzai ‘we cannot succeed when half of us are held back’ and this is the case in Nigeria across various sectors, education for example; Nigeria accounts for 27.6% of out-of-school children in the world. Out of a global total of 262 million out-of-school children, 10.5 million live in Nigeria. More so, about 60% of the 10.5 million children out-of-school are girls.
A lot of people would argue that education is not everything at least not ‘formal education’, but I believe education is a great start to reducing a lot of these inequalities.
Q. You are passionate about the Girl Child. A lot is being said about the Girl Child. What do you want to say about her and her place in society as well as the conditions she is facing around the world?
A. The Girl Child is first of all human and that is what I believe we need to understand, she has the capacity to create, innovate and BECOME. Gender is not a valid reason to hinder any human being from accessing the opportunities they require to live a well-rounded life.
The place of the Girl Child in society is that of a Human Being in every given society, be it politics, government, the corporate work space, medicine, science, technology etc. The girl child deserves an equal fighting chance. A lot is being done and things are better now than they were a couple years ago. ‘Half bread is better than none’ they say, but do you know what is better than half bread? FULL BREAD.
Q. From your interaction with young girls, what do you perceive to be their strongest needs? What is being done to meet these needs? Is it enough?
A. I can’t point to one thing as their collective “strongest need” because they are all different individuals in different circumstances, different needs and different outlooks on life. If I have to say one thing however I’d say these girls need to know there is more that they can aspire to, they need to know that they have people in their corner that are rooting for them and beyond that actually setting up structures to help them become all that they can be. A lot is being done by the government and non-profit sector, but there a lot more that needs to be done. More importantly beyond starting interventions I think we need to set up structures that are sustainable.
Q. Can you highlight some of the activities of the Girl Child Care Advancement Initiative?
A. At GCCAI our activities can be summed up under our three pillars; MENTORSHIP, SPONSORSHIP, and ADVOCACY.
We carry out advocacy visits, seminars, community development, skill acquisition, a mentorship program and scholarship schemes.
Q. Why the Illuminate Seminars? What is the vision behind them?
A. “Illuminate” (meaning to light up or to help clarify/explain something) is a platform that aims to identify and discuss issues plaguing the girl child and ultimately proffer robust solutions to those issues.
The vision behind the illuminate seminar is to create a platform that brings together stakeholders where issues can be tabled and solutions to these issues proffered.
Q. In your analysis, what is the success of the Illuminate Seminars?
A. For me the success of the seminars lies in the fact that their purpose is being achieved; light is being shed. Girls are learning, more people are seeing the importance of the work we are doing and giving their quota to the advancement of the girl child.
Q. What other projects do you have planned? What other needs do you plan to meet?
A. Our immediate plan is to increase our scholarship fund and enrol more girls to the scheme; the SAG Project (Sponsor A Girl) aims to put a number of girls through school, beginning from primary school.
We hope to continue to address the problem of menstrual period poverty, and also try to see that our girls are put in conducive learning facilities with the necessary learning materials they need.
Q. What can Government, Organizations and Individuals do to help?
A. Funding is a major setback; we can do a lot more with the right donors and funding. Giving to charitable causes is not restricted to financial support, individuals can volunteer their time and skillset as well. The government can also set up more sustainable structures to see to the everyday needs of the girl child, for example even though primary education is officially free and compulsory states in the north east and north west have primary net attendance rates of 47.7 percent and 47.3 percent respectively. This means that more than half of the girls are not in school. The question is why?
Q. What’s your word for young Nigerians?
A. We need to take responsibility and become the change we want to see in our country. We must learn to move our conversations beyond our circle of concern to our circles of impact and influence. Turn your complaints to problem statements and work towards solving those that are in your capacity to solve. Time should have taught us by now that relying on others to makes things favourable for us may prove an endless wait.
Oiza and the Girl Child Care Advancement Initiative are contributing their own quota to society development and changing the narrative of the girl child. Support them and lets all play our parts to solve Nigeria’s problem.