By Maria Famakinwa
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s International Day of the Girl Child, the wife of Ondo State Governor, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu has reiterated her dedication to building strong female leaders of the future.
The International Day of the Girl Child celebrated yearly on October 11 is an international observance day declared by the United Nations that seeks to empower girls and highlight the needs and challenges that they face throughout the globe. The 2022 observance also doubles as the 10th anniversary of the annual celebration.
Noting that the future is female, the First Lady threw more light on how the Bemore Empowered Girls Foundation has been working to make her commitment a reality
“On the 3rd of September, 388 young girls graduated from the 2022 Bemore Summer Bootcamp, making a total of over 2000 girls who had gone through rigorous two weeks of training expanding their skills and capacity.
On the theme of the International Day of the Girl Child which is “Our time is now—our rights, our future” the First Lady stressed that leadership is gender-neutral and gave examples of women including herself who overcame various challenges in their quest to shatter the proverbial “glass ceiling”.
She said: “Whatever your male counterpart can do, you can likewise do, and even do better. It is indeed our time!
“My story, as a village girl from the remote Emeabiam, Owerri West, Imo State, who faced and scaled many hurdles to become a towering First Lady should remind you that female education is not a waste.
“Kamala Harris’ story as the 49th United States Vice-President should remind you that girls can be more.
“Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the 24th President of Liberia and the first elected female Head of State in Africa, has demonstrated to you that a woman can lead a country and that leadership is about capacity and not about gender.
“Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who now serves as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization is the first woman and first African to lead the World Trade Organization as president tells of the capacity of a woman.
“Our own Professor Adenike Oladiji, of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), has proven to you that a woman can reach the zenith of her academic career and also become the head of a university.
“Team Nigeria, at the 22nd edition of the Commonwealth Games, which was concluded on August 8 in Birmingham, United Kingdom won the most medals. The Nigerian team won 12 gold, nine silver, and 14 bronze medals. Women won all 12 gold medals and currently, in Iran, teenage girls are leading the protests for women’s rights.”
“Gone are the days when you would be made to play the second fiddle role because you are a girl. The world now belongs to both men and women and in fact, women are making new impressions as opposed to being the ‘weaker vessel’. Women are leading the global space as much as men are.
“You can achieve whatever your mind can conceive if you believe. Nothing is stopping you as a woman, you can become anything and can belong anywhere, including heads of institutions and government,” she said.
The First Lady however emphasised the fact that girls around the world continue to confront tremendous hurdles to their education, physical and emotional welfare, and the protection needed for a life free of violence.