"I have learnt about self-awareness like knowing myself, the kind of appropriate attitude I should display and the ones I should not. I also learnt how to knit, bake cake, make chin-chin and shoes" says Aina’u Attahiru, a 10 year old primary six pupil of Nazzamiya Model Primary School, Anka Zamfara state.
"I also know the difference between me as a girl and a boy in terms of genes and behaviors." she said.
"Ladies witness the monthly period while boys do not; even though I have not experienced yet, I have been taught how to take care of myself when the time comes."
Aina’u can now produce reusable sanitary pad, has self-esteem, personal hygiene like washing of hands and brushing of teeth and she said all these were possible because of the new education empowerment programme by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Girl for Girl (G4G).
According to her, G4G is empowering girls with life skills and encouraging young girls in school to remain in school until completion so they can become better in the future.
She is one out of the over 15,000 primary school girls in Zamfara, Bauchi and Katsina states who have pledged to remain and complete their education through the G4G initiative, which uses career women and Mothers Association to champion the cause of girl child education.
G4G is a school-based safe space, extra curriculum activity programme initiated by UNICEF with Support from UKAID, in partnership with Federal Ministry of Education, Universal Basic Education Commission & State Universal Basic Education Board launched about a year ago.
One of the women groups who are actors in the training and mentoring of the girls is High Level Women Advocate (HiLWA), a group of women who have excelled in their various careers.
Speaking to journalists at a Media Dialogue organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Culture in Zamfara State, Secretary General Halima of HiLWA, Halima Ibrahim Maigari said women plays a very vital role in empowering girls’ education through G4G.
“G4G is one area that we are working on, because for the young girls they need people to inspire them, they need people they could see and look up to. HILWA women normally role model for G4G to tell the girls our stories so that they will aspire to be like us,” she said.
“We tell them that we are where we are because we are educated, and that they cannot be where they want without education, she added.
She explained that besides the girls’ normal session, they taught them vocational skills such as how to make pomade, car wash, beads, dough nut and others saying, “but we told them that we are not teaching them those skills for them to leave school, but just to equip them for the future.
“With time if you are in school and transiting into secondary and higher institution, you can be able to support yourself with the little things they have learnt,” she added.
For Aisha Abdullahi of Community Action for Popular Participation (CAPP) and programme officer for G4G in Katsina state, G4G aside the promoting enrollment and retention of girls in schools also empowers them for the future and help them stand up for themselves.
Speaking on the training received by the girls, she said the empowerment skills among the girls have improve their economic status saying, “We have girls that are using it for business; aside from that, we also taught them on assertiveness, gender confidence among others which they are also exhibiting them one after the other.”
She said the girls do not talk before but now they can stand up for themselves to say what they want or do not want.
However, Barrister Suwaiba Ibrahim Barau of Zamfara state Universal Basic Education and Chairperson HiLWA noted that the impact of G4G is great, adding that where ever they go they see the impact that is placed.
“The girls are more outgoing, they participate better in things and their reactions to questions are much better. Last time we visited the school the boys are even more reserved and not answering showing that there is a lot of difference.
She said as a government, we make sure that we sustain the programmes especially when we see that it is from UNICEF and it is for the benefit of our communities. So, we always try to replicate and see how we can infuse other local governments that are not involved into it.
She however said G4G has been there and scaling it up is not going to be a problem.