All girls in Nigeria deserve an education
A young Nigerian education advocate doesn’t wait for her government to act: she creates opportunities for disadvantaged children herself
“One doesn’t have to be in a position of power to be a change agent.” Wadi Ben-Hirki, a Nigerian education advocate, encourages all of us to join efforts to give children a chance for a brighter future.
June 13, 2018 by Wadi Ben-Hirki, Wadi Ben-Hirki Foundation| |
The Wadi Ben-Hirki Foundation participated in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, which advocated to bring back the girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria.
CREDIT: Fiyin Gambo of Cliq Media

Recent statistics by UNICEF Nigeria show that my country has about 10.5 million out-of-school children and girls make up 60% of that population. Statistics also show that about 43% of girls in Nigeria marry before their 18th birthday.

Insurgency and terrorist attacks are gradually on the increase and too little is done about it. The issues of poverty, child marriage, illiteracy and insecurity can be combatted by formulating and implementing laws, rules and policies that regulate practices and activities and would bring measurable results.

Every child, no matter their circumstances, deserves an education

I advocate for 12 years of free, qualitative and inclusive education for children in vulnerable and less privileged communities. This is of great importance as circumstances have robbed these children of almost everything. The only way in which they can begin to meaningfully rebuild their communities is through education.

This education must be delivered free of charge and through meaningful partnerships between government ministries, departments and agencies, benevolent private citizens and non-governmental organizations, which can go a long way in bringing this to fruition.

Lastly, the education must be inclusive. No demographic or community should be hindered from accessing it, and that of course includes minorities and girls.

The ripple effects of inclusive, quality education include: a better economy, reduction in youth engagement in risky behaviors, controlled increase in population and a more sustainable country.

Agents of change are you and me

The Wadi Ben-Hirki Foundation aims to impact the lives of the less privileged, marginalized and disadvantaged through humanitarianism and activism.
CREDIT: Fiyin Gambo of Cliq Media

One doesn’t have to be in a position of power to be a change agent. The greatest resource in any country is its people. If everyone can tap into the talents that they have, and if we can then communally pool all our efforts to make our world better, then we’ll find that in little time, the world around us will morph into a much better place.

We all play vital roles in bringing about the positive change we seek, as the popular saying goes, “be the change you want to see”.

That’s why I decided to establish the Wadi Ben-Hirki Foundation three years ago to impact the lives of the less privileged, marginalized and disadvantaged through humanitarianism and activism.

Our mission is to reignite the hopes of the hurting women and children. We are committed to help in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals through our major projects: Street2School, GirlsNotWives and LITMOW (Love In The Midst Of War).

So far, the Street2School Project has successfully helped 15 children get back to school via our full scholarship schemes and 250 children have received stationary and other school items. The Street2School Project is currently working on partnering with other organizations and sponsors to get many more children back to school.  

The GirlsNotWives Project is measuring success on a regular basis as hundreds of people are now educated and informed about the dangers of child marriage and the benefits of educating the girl-child. Over 100 females have been empowered and taught various skills to enable them make ends meet and through Project LITMOW, over 1,500 people are given clothing items and shoes on a bi-annual basis.

In July 2016, we launched a social enterprise named Sapphire by WBHF, where branded merchandise is produced and sold to publicize and raise funds for the foundation. In the long run, we hope to empower people through skills acquisition and training to enable them raise money in order to fend for themselves and their families.

Being a ONE champion

I currently serve as a ONE Campaign Champion in Nigeria and my major work with ONE is the #GirlsCount campaign, which advocates for the education of the 130 million out-of-school girls around the world.

I am responsible for leveraging social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram) to inform people about the work we do and encourage them to support the campaign by signing up as members and signing our petitions. I also organize young people and carry out projects on special days like the International Day of the Girl Child (October 11th) to empower young school girls and inspire them to work harder so they can be leaders in the near future.

I represented ONE at the 2018 Global Partnership for Education Financing Conference and was privileged to advocate on a global stage. Young advocates and change makers who represented various international organizations were part of the youth delegation at the event. Because the matters discussed directly affect us, our voices should be heard.

We issued a solidarity statement, which was presented to heads of States and governments. It was meant to encourage governments, international organizations and agencies across the world to pledge to support and invest in a 12-year free, qualitative and inclusive education for all.

Through the work of GPE, and thanks to the work of tireless youth advocates, millions more children now have access to education, making us hopeful for a better and more sustainable society.

The #SheCanLead campaign

I was the selected Nigerian leader who led the Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria, H.E. Christopher Thornley, in the #SheCANLead campaign to show the abilities of an educated and empowered young girl and the need for every girl to have access to quality education.

As a result of my advocacy, I was recently selected to serve on the African Leadership Institute Youth Advisory Board and several other conferences and programs.

In the next few years, I hope to measure tangible impact and see that things have drastically changed as a result of my work. It is my desire to see that children are made priority and are given the right tools to lead as the saying goes, “children are the leaders of tomorrow.”

I also hope to see that youths are given more platforms and opportunities at the global stage because we comprise of the larger population in the world so, our voices should be heard.

Find more details and updates about my humanitarian and advocacy work:

Website: http://wbhfoundation.org/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wbhfoundation https://twitter.com/SapphirebyWBHF

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/wadibenhirkifoundation/
https://www.instagram.com/saphtoria/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wbhfoundation/

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Girls' Education, Youth
Sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria

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