June 16th every year is celebrated all over Africa as a day of the African Child. This is a day set aside to honour those who participated in the Soweto uprising in South Africa in 1976 where thousands of students march for miles to demand for their rights in the Apartheid regime.
After that eventful uprising in Soweto, the day became recognised and celebrated yearly with various themes to mark the day. This year’s theme is “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting All Children’s Rights”
Girls’ Power Initiative (GPI) a Non-governmental Organisation joined millions of Africans in celebrating the day by adding values to the lives of children in Nigeria.
Cross section of students during the events
The NGO celebrated the day with students from five schools namely; Army Day Junior Secondary School; Evbareke Junior Secondary School; Eweka Junior Secondary School; Asoro Grammar School and Iyoba Girls College all in Benin City the Edo State capital.
Delivering a welcome address, the Chairperson, Executive Board of Girls’ Power Initiative, Grace Osakue, took guest down memory lane on how Girls’ Power Initiative (GPI) came into existence, the struggle, challenges, obstacles and progress made so far since 1993 when the idea was conceived by Bene Madunagu and herself before establishing the body in 1994.
Grace Osakue said after working with women for the past 10 years and realise that the women were not ready to change their mentality and approach life from a different perspective ,the need arise for the establishment of a platform through which feminist Institution will be sustained with critical consciousness and capacity for analysis on social and gender prejudice, committed to empowering girls into healthy, self-reliant and productive women for the achievement of positive change and transformation of practical values in Nigeria. GPI was born and its vision faction along this line.
Grace Osakue said the body is 22 years old this year and has graduated wonderful girls from her School outreach progamme who are now leaders all around the world. “When you are a GPI girl, you are girl with a different. You will certainly be different in all your life endeavour, you can’t be a drop out of school, you can’t be failure in life, you can never be manipulated. GPI teaches the skills to be able to say no to sex and also how to find yourself out of rape situation”.
Delivering the lecture titled “Conflict And Crisis in Africa: Protecting All Children’s Rights” the assistant outreach coordinator and facilitator, Loretta Ofure Ayele went down memory lane acquainting the students present with the Soweto struggle of 1976 in South Africa.
She said conflict means difference in opinion, disagreement or argument between people while crisis, according to her, can be brought about by difference in opinion, disagreement or argument between people. She said the Soweto struggle became necessary at that time because the Apathies regime was oppressing student especial the blacks who stood firm together to defend their right.
Before the struggle, she said, the right of children were violated especially that of the black children. Their right to life, health, education, survival and development were all violated by the government of that time as such the student have no choice than to rise up to the occasion to defend themselves.
Outreach coordinator, Ayo Amen Ediae, expressed delight for the turnout of students and the number of grandaunts from the school outreach programme of GPI, thanking them for their commitment and courage to go through the courses.
Speaking further, she said GPI is working in 18 schools but students graduating were from five schools. “I want to congratulate you for graduating today, the grandaunts here today should be happy that they are part of those graduating. We are graduating over 150 students in our outreach programme. 59 out of the number will be given a participatory certificates while 100 will get a graduation certificates”.
She admonished the girls to ensure they keep the flag of GPI flying in all they do in life especially now that they have GPI certificate. “You went through a one year curriculum, much is expected from you as a graduate from our outreach programme, you must keep your head high as GPI ambassador” she concluded.
The most outstanding grandaunt 2015/2016 session from Iyoba College Omoruyi Blessing expressed delight for coming out as the best and thanked God for the feat achieved as she dedicate her success to God Almighty. She thanked GPI for giving her the platform to express herself and today she is being celebrated. She advised those who were not so lucky like herself never to give up in life because perseverance pays.
Her teacher, Oladotun Ruth, appreciated God for the success of her student and thanked GPI for the platform giving to the students to showcase what they are made off.