#GirlsDay: Imagine A Girl Staying Out Of School For Days because Of Her Menstrual Cycle? – Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi

By Grace Shaibu

This day is like every other day but this day is dedicated to focusing on the Girl Child. There are lots of things to celebrate about girls across the world but we also know that the gap is wide. Quite a number of girls are still out of school, still faced with abject poverty and still roaming about in forced marriages. This is the time for us to let the world know that girls should be protected and allowed to go to school.

AW in conversation with Mrs Olatokunbo Gbadamosi, programmes director, Keep Girls In School [KGIS] a project run by the First Lady of Ekiti State, Her Excellency, Erelu Bisi Fayemi. Ms Olatokunbo will be sharing her experience as an educationist and programmes director of this initiative. On a day like this, it is important that we keep the conversation going.

Mrs Olatokunbo Gbadamosi

AW: Please introduce yourself to us

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: My name is Olatokunbo Gbadamosi, SSA Public Affairs and Advocacy, Wife of the Governor of Ekiti State.

AW: Tell us about your growing up experience that informed your knowledge about the role of the girl child in the society?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: Growing up in a family of 4 with a single mother, I was determined to make it far up in life supporting the girl child as much as I could. In fact, I diverted into being an educationist to support the education from scratch of the girl child. I also got involved with the church being an instructor for the teenage church(age of rebellion)

AW: As we commemorate the International Day of the Girl child, what would you say is pertinent for parents to recognize in the lives of their girls and the girls around them?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: As a mother/ guardian to a girl child, I’ll advise you to look out for early signs of distraction and peer pressure. It’s never too early to start speaking to your child on the dos and don’t of Sexual/domestic abuse. The parts of the body that is sacred also should never be off a discussion.

AW: In developing countries, girls are encouraged to go to school but there’s been a vacuum in girls remaining in school, as the programmes director of KGIS; What are the measures that can be put in place for girls in these countries to enable them stay in school?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: Let’s call Nigeria a developing country too, here in Ekiti, The office of her Excellency has done virtually everything that is being done in all the so-called developing countries to ensure the girl child gets into school and stays there. The most common factor you’ll imagine is sanitary situations, imagine a girl staying out of school for days because of her menstrual cycle but there’s a free pad bank here in Ekiti to ensure girls get a right to education more so education is FREE.

Also, let’s dive into teenage pregnancy, there are laws in place for sexually being involved with a minor(no such thing here in Ekiti as having a sexual relationship with a minor less than age 18) there’s jail term as a result of any of this frivolous activities.

AW: We are aware that Ekiti is one of the states concerned about the capacity of girls, would you say political-will has frontier this run?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: If you know my principal, Erelu Fayemi, you’ll know nationwide she’s the front liner of Empowering and aligning women into the corridors of power and ensuring they have a voice in the society. The right to an education allows for this to happen “educate a child, educate a nation”.Women need to take charge these days and allow men to stop being chauvinist towards them by getting educated and attaining equal rights.

AW: What are the goal areas of the KGIS Project and what’s the progress report so far?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: KGIS uttermost goal is ensuring the girlchild gets an education not only gets an education but stays in the education; that is, she stays in school and to ensure this happens, every avenue to deny this has been blocked off. i.e Free education, supplies needed for school like school bags, uniforms even sanitary hygiene materials all these are supplied by Her Excellency Erelu Fayemi to fund the education of the girl child. So far, I can tell you the enrolment of girls in school has increased and the drop out status decreased.

AW: In your own opinion, how can this kind of project be replicated in the country?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: Imagine all First Ladies in all states take up this task, it will make a humongous difference in our society…

AW: In what areas do you think the girl child is losing her voice?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: Lack of opportunities, skills and support for their voices to be heard is constantly fading away because of the high rate of misogyny. Value-based approaches are also not in use to encourage these young women to achieve their desires, the confidence to project skills of what they’ve learnt into practical actions in their various communities.

AW: Is this the best time to be a girl child, woman, in the world?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: There’s never the best time to be a girl child in this environment we live in but the TIME IS NOW to showcase being a girl child and silencing all the patriarchal ideas.

AW: Do you think Nigeria is ready for the capacity of having more girls break boundaries and get into leadership positions?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: I would say yes, as a lot of women are emerging now to see through the running of activities in Nigeria be it in banking, political and even global economy sectors and the irony is they are being recognised for the great value been added. A whole lot of sensitisation needs to be done, even though the current WNGF headed by our own Erelu Fayemi is doing a lot to ensure the number of women assuming these positions are constantly going up.

AW: Who are your role models?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: Have you met Michelle Obama(lol) my world she motivates me, I have read her book and even watched the documentary on Netflix back to back and permit me not to sound patronising but I see a lot of me in Erelu Bisi Fayemi, Erelu is the Michelle Obama of Nigeria(of course you know she’s globally recognised) she is my push all day every day when I am older am sure I’ll be like Erelu.

AW: What’s your advice for parents and girls to pull through for a sane society?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: Parents, no child is superior or inferior to another, let’s not think my girl child will end up in the kitchen anyways and allow the boy child to get an education… Every child matters, teach them the right way to grow and most importantly allow them to speak out(soro soke)

AW: what do you wish for the girl child on this day?

Ms Olatokunbo Gbadamosi: On this day and always my darling, speak up and always know the sky is your starting point, not a limit anymore

Source: Above Whispers

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