Under the umbrella priority theme of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) this year, ‘Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls’, it is very encouraging to see that women from rural and indigenous backgrounds will be able to shape dialogue and make their voices heard.
With a Girl Effect country office based in Nigeria, we understand the opportunities and challenges of working in such a vast country. With a multitude of ethnic groups and over 100 languages spoken, the country is diverse and the challenges that girls face can come in many forms.
Across Nigeria, girls are encouraged to be ‘good girls’. Many are encouraged to marry early, and if they don’t get married by a certain age, society thinks that there’s something wrong with them. The pressure on girls to conform and marry earlier to have babies can be intense. How do those pressures contribute to the empowerment of girls and women? Not very much.
Increasingly, girls can feel very alone when it comes to managing their own lives. They are not encouraged to get advice from their peers. What if it’s the wrong type of advice? What if it puts the girl in danger? Because of reasons like these, they are not encouraged to seek advice from anyone around topics such as sex or puberty. If they are younger, they are told they shouldn’t be asking those questions anyway. And of course, online content isn’t always age appropriate.
Uniting girls to answer questions about their own lives across both rural and urban habitats can be challenging, but Girl Effect has come up with a solution.