In Nigeria, it is estimated that 23% of women aged 15-19years have begun childbearing and 32% of teenagers in rural areas have become young mothers, according to the Demographic Health Survey of 2013. One of the focal points of discussion at the just concluded family planning conference in Nigeria which took place on the 3rd – 6th of December, 2018 in Nigeria is the prevention of teenage pregnancy and promotion of adolescent reproductive health rights.
Youth and Adolescents were given the opportunity to speak up about their health needs so policymakers can put in place services to meet these needs. As part of efforts to make visible the works of young people making an impact in their communities, 5 young people shared their innovative work as it relates to reproductive health needs of adolescents and young persons. The youngest of them, to give a pitch about her work was 16 years old, Peace Ayo Adegbola. It was heartwarming seeing this young determined girl doing something to make the lives of others better.
Peace Adegbola is a role model to other adolescent girls in her community. She equips girls with life skills and information necessary to curb teenage pregnancy. She shared the story of her journey into becoming girls advocate in this interview with me.
A.A: Tell us your name
Peace: My name is Peace Ayo Adegbola
A.A: So are you a student?
Peace: Yes I’m a student. I just wrote my WAEC, waiting for admission into the university. I am a girl advocate and I’m 16 years old.
A.A: What steered you up in that direction?
Peace: My daddy works with Society for family health and so he goes to rural communities to educate these young girls about the importance of family planning. Sometimes he normally takes me along. When I go to these communities I find that the majority of these adolescent girls are not in school. Boys are going to school and a majority of the girls are at home. I was just 10 years old so I started asking questions, became anxious and wanted to do something about this. I felt like if a 10year old girl Like me is outspoken, I wanted other girls to be too and I decided to be an advocate. And my dad inspired me, the communities I have been to and what the girls are passing through.
A.A: That was how you started the girls club?
Peace: The girls club actually started as a self-esteem session with the girls. I launched a project on “All Girls must go to School” which targeted girls that are not in school to ensure that these girls go to school. We have about 200 girls are now in school as a result and come this September more girls will be enrolled. I needed a sustainability plan to keep these girls in school. I found out that something so simple as self-esteem makes them drop out of school. So I created a small group where I talk to these young girls. At first, it was just the girls we were sponsoring to school.
A.A: How are you funding this sponsorship?
Peace: Strong Enough Girls are my key partners, Youth Hub Africa, and so many partners and some individuals that buy into the idea.
A.A: Going forward where do you see this? Are you intending to fully make a career of development work?
Peace: Yes! Because my partner, who happens to be my dad, and I currently jointly own an organization. It is something I want to do for life; it’s something that even though I do other things, this is one thing I will never leave. This is service to humanity and girls like me. I believe so much in their potentials.
A.A: Your advice for girls, adults and especially parents.
Peace: My advice to young girls is that there is time for everything; take it one step at a time. And if you have made some mistakes don’t use it to judge yourself or pull yourself back. The thing about making mistakes or falling down is for you to know the right way to take. My advice to parents is that they should have a close relationship with their kids and to actually open up. Tell them about sexual reproductive issues. Talk to your child about hygiene, menstrual hygiene. Do not code things and give wrong information, for example, say that “if a boy touches you, you will get pregnant, No! Tell them that it is sex that gets a girl pregnant. Prepare them so they will make the right choices.
Adolescent and youth health needs is a must attend to.
Someone mentored Peace Aydegbola right and now she, in turn, has become a mentor and role model to other girls in her community, nipping teenage pregnancy in the bud and inspiring girls to go to and finish school.
One person can make a huge difference
Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – firstname.lastname@example.org