Today is Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, and it is International Day of the girl child. It is a day created by the United Nations in 2012 to highlight the challenges girls face around the world. According to the UN, the day promotes the empowerment of the roughly 1.1 billion young girls currently living in the world and the fulfillment of their human rights.
The UN’s mission statement reads: “The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights,”
According to the UN, adolescent girls are entitled to a ‘safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years but also as they mature into women.’ “If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realizing the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.”
It is against this background that YEDI’s #SkillzGirl programme focuses on adolescent girls. The curriculum is an evidence-based intervention for girls aged 13-19, educating them on HIV prevention, sexuality, and life skills and empowering them with basic information to make healthy choices about their sexual and reproductive health (SRH) using the game of soccer and other physical activities which help them to build interpersonal relationships, encourage positive self-image, and develop negotiation and leadership skills.
The SkillzGirl programme enlightens and empowers vulnerable adolescent girls on issues relating to their sexual and reproductive health while providing them with critical life and leadership skills to enable them to become productive members of the society. Over 10,000 girls in Lagos, Akwa Ibom, and Abuja – Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory have benefitted from this programme since it was first piloted in 2014. While many of them have also been empowered with crafts training for economic well-being, this girl-centered initiative creates a #safespace for them to play non-competitive soccer, take action in their community, and have vital conversations about HIV/AIDS. Beneficiaries of the program are mentored by thoroughly-trained female #PeerEducators and are also provided access to voluntary and free HIV Testing Services (HTS) after every intervention with a referral system to cater for those requiring treatment and further counseling. Though there’s still a lot to be done, the progress made so far wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors, partners and dedicated #SkillzCoaches. Read more here