15-year-old education activist Peace joined Malala Fund at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference in Dakar on February 1–2. During the conference, Peace participated in the youth workshop, contributed to the youth solidarity statement and shared her story with world leaders. She discussed why it is essential to see every girl in school for 12 years. In this post for Malala Fund, Peace writes about her education campaign in Nigeria and where her motivation comes from.
My name is Peace. I am 15 years old and I am from Nigeria. I find myself very lucky because I finished my secondary education.
My parents always supported me, but this is not the case for so many other girls in my country. Many parents would rather send boys than girls to school. They want girls at the age of 13 to stay home, get married or get jobs. If a girl wishes to go to school, then she must pay for it herself through menial jobs at construction sites, farm work or hawking.
The day I found out that other girls don’t get to go to school, I cried. I think education is the right of education of every child — for boys and girls. This is not something that should happen. So I decided to do something about it.
I didn’t want to just wish, I wanted to act. I wanted to work towards it. So I became an advocate.
I launched a project called, “All Girls Must Go to School.” I went to my community and asked girls what they needed to go to school. I researched the issues they face and found that in addition to parents not supporting their girls’ education, early marriage and early pregnancy stop girls from going to school.
I started a campaign to educate girls. I help girls talk to their parents about why they should be in school the same as boys. Many parents say why waste money on sending girls to school? But I say that if a girl gets 12 years of quality education, she can do something great with her life.
I am at this conference because I saw a problem in my community and so I decided to act. The state of education in Nigeria needs to be addressed. The girls I work with have fantastic visions. They want to be pilots, they want to be accountants, they want to be journalists. I advocate for girls because those dreams can only happen with secondary education.
The future of a nation lies in the hands of girls and women. So if we want great nations — if we want a great world — we must educate girls.