In Nigeria, certain socio-cultural beliefs prevent girls from developing their potential. These beliefs contribute to higher rates of poverty, illiteracy, and early marriage among young girls in this country. The MEDA WAY project works with communities and families in Nigeria’s Bauchi State to improve the environment where girls grow up so that they can fully participate in society.
To address gender inequalities and the socio-cultural barriers faced by women and girls, the Federation of Muslim Women in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Fahimta Women and Youth Development Initiative (FAWOYDI) and Child is Gold Foundation (CIGF), provided a three-week Life Skills for Girls Program (LS4GP) for 360 girls. These girls were daughters of the project’s Savings and Loans Group members, all of whom are businesswomen working with MEDA to increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods.
The program covered diverse topics including the significant health risks that early and forced marriages pose to girls. Overall, the training has improved the girls’ ability to make informed life choices and provided an opportunity for peer-to-peer learning.
At the end of the program, there was a graduation ceremony which celebrated the girls’ success. The event was attended by a diverse crowd and included politicians, religious leaders, and the parents of the girls. Certificates of accomplishment were given to the participants of the program.
As a reflection of the success of the program, one of the girls spoke of the self-confidence she gained from the program. “Before now I could never speak in public but look at me today after the LS4GP… I am here speaking in front of these large crowd,” she remarked proudly.