Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and regulations surrounding it, Pastor Bimbo Odukoya Foundation (PBOF) in collaboration with Heartminders Societal Advancement Initiative celebrated the 2020 edition of the International Day of the Girl-child which was the 9th.

The event which has the theme, “My Voice, Our Equal Future,”  took place on Monday, October 12 with 10 selected students and 10 teachers from various senior secondary schools in Ilupeju and its environs.

Giving the opening remarks at the event was the Executive Director of Heartminders Initiative, Ms
Funke Ijayekunle. She said that the theme of the celebration perfectly describes the struggles of the
girl child in the society.

Using herself as an example, she said that it is not a sin or taboo for anyone to make mistakes. She also told the girls that they should not allow anyone to deny them the right to live because of some mistakes they may have made, noting that she made a few mistakes as well but she is living intentionally now.

She urged the girls to use their voices because they all have stories to tell and should not be shut
down.

“Don’t let anyone tell you your voice is bad, and even if it is, use it like that and speak up. Use
your voice wherever you find yourself because that’s the only thing you have,” she said.

Also speaking to the girls was the Coordinator of PBOF, Mrs. Aderonke Oyelakin, who told the girls to follow their dreams.

According to her, every girlchild should see herself as an agent of change in her environment. This, she said, would happen when she has inner conviction and believe in herself.

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She also urged the girls to believe and always declare that they can be whatever they desire to be if they could work hard enough for it.

“Inspire it, you can achieve it,” she said.

The special guest and keynote speaker for the event, Mrs Ini Abimbola, Founder and Lead
Consultant/Chief Executive Officer of Thistle Praxis Consulting Limited (TPC), said that every girl child should know her truth. This, according to her, will equip her for the journey to the future.

“The minute you’re ashamed of your background, you can’t succeed. You must first embrace your
background and learn the lessons from those experiences for you to move forward,” she said.

The business leader with over 20 years’ experience with the call of helping and mentoring the girl-child also shared her experiences of her poor background, where her father was a roadside watch
repairer and her mother a petty trader to tell the students at the event that laziness is one major
killer of their dreams and voices.

In her words, “You can’t afford to be lazy if you want to have a bright future. Use every opportunity you have very well with programs as this. The determination to focus on your studies is your voice. You need to learn how to use your voice to encourage your parents.”

 

The following seven points, according to her, are vital for every girl child to know for her
voice to be heard.

– She needs to understand who she is, her identity. This is how to start writing her story.
– She needs to watch her words and actions. Saying things that edify her and her future is
important
– She needs to learn to have self-confidence; expressing herself without being rude.
– She needs to cherish her unique talents.
– Society and social media do not portray the best her, so she doesn’t need to be defined by
it.
– She needs to take pride in her accomplishments, which she works for.
– She needs to aim for effort in whatever she does and not perfection.
– She finally admonished them to use their voice in whatever form they desire.

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“Know who you are and what you want. Not everyone was born with a silver spoon but you can create your silver spoon. Nobody is your competition, your competition is your future. So use your voice,” she said.

An educative documentary about the empowerment of the girlchild was aired after which there
was the formal launch of the book, “What A Girl Wants” by Heartminders.

The book is a real-life experience of the initiative on the first rape case she handled.

The students later had an interactive session with the keynote speaker. That session and the
the event was interactively anchored by Melony Ishola.

Giving the final words to the girls was Mrs Titiliope Odelola also known as Iya Ewe
(Children’s Mother) who also admonished them to speak and not to let anyone shut them down. She made a toast to the girl child all over the world.

As reported by Becky Olorunpomi