Dr. Jumai Ahmadu may not be a contemporary of the legendary Mother Theresa, but no doubt, she is her die-hard disciple. This, she had exemplified in many ways, including fighting for women, and the girl-child’s rights. In this chat with CALEB ONWE, the President for Helpline Foundation for the Needy, stressed that gender imbalance could be corrected when concerned stakeholders create the right environment
The Nigerian society is infested with so many challenges that tend to prune down the potential of women folk in some areas, even the girl-child is considered as an endangered species.
In deference to some obnoxious customs, women are subjected to wicked practices that smack of slavery mentality. The traditional, but dehumanizing belief that suggests that any woman whose husband is dead, is a prime suspect that must be made to go through certain deprivation and some widowhood rituals, is not just subsisting in many Nigerian communities, but still being encouraged by people who ought to be harbinger of modernity.
In 21st century civilization, it is so disturbing that in a country that claims to subscribe to the principles of modernity, some communities are still culpable to absurdity that is conspicuously in contrast to what the ideal situations ought to be.
More despicable, is a situation where some people still hold tenaciously to a primordial superstition that women’s sexuality is better controlled by violating their human rights through female genital mutilation. Despite concerted global outcry against this evil that has a far-reaching health implications for the victims, some communities in Nigeria, are yet to jettison the murderous idea.
The girl – child rejection syndrome which is still prevalent in some Nigerian communities, has not just showed the extent of injustice against feminism, but exposes a deep rooted ignorance that cast aspersions on both divinity and humanity.
This depraved mindset, gradually has snowballed into a full-blown animosity, promoting the concept that forcing the girl-child into early marriage without the opportunity of getting quality education, was the best option to extricating the society of an ‘evil omen.’
Girl-child early marriage and embargo on education are still being upheld as cherished traditions in some parts of the country. Some depraved religious fanatics, even believe that educating the girl-child was a taboo that must not be allowed.
These man-made limitations and many others, are hurdles which the Nigerian society has advertently, and in some cases, inadvertently encouraged, and the women folk is gasping for breath, due to the choking effects arising from the conditions.
Several individuals and organizations have overtime staked resources to challenging the forces that militate against women and girl-child development. The more the forces prove to be difficult, the more the challengers mobilize to demystify them.
Dr. Jumai Ahmadu, is one woman that believes that gender balancing is possible, and that the women and girl-child can be liberated from both self-imposed and societal prisons. She argued that once there are policies and resources that create the right developmental environments, the gender imbalance and other problems facing the women and girl-child would be half solved.
According to her,” Creating sustainable opportunities for women and the girl-child to lift their families out of poverty by connecting people worldwide in a circle of exchange that enriches everyone is a step forward towards resolving the equation, I believe that every girl has the power and potential to transform her life regardless of where she was born, challenges she has faced and those she is currently facing. I am also confident that girls can reach their potentials and rise above all issues with the right environment and support.
“In realization of this important cycle, I introduced a project tagged: Girl, Realize Your Potential. My Foundation organizes this project annually for young school girls living in poverty so that they can find their spark and release their power on the world in due course”.
She asserted that experience has shown that almost everyone that is given support in the right environment, can overcome both birth circumstances and any other societal limitations.
Ahmadu said that her foray into social works, spanning over two decades of dogged involvement in the fight to liberate her constituency, and ensure that as many as have the determination comes out of oblivion, had revealed that many women are languishing in ignorance and lack of the right environment.
Speaking on the experiences that confers on her the credibility to take initiatives aimed at salvaging the despicable situations that encourage gender parity and marginalization in Nigeria.
She said, “I have been involved in humanitarian work since my NYSC days in 1997. This eventually earned me the NYSC award, leading to my automatic employment after service.
“I decided to continue after my service year to give back because it was the grace of God upon my life that made it possible for me to be given such an opportunity.
“In 2003, I registered Pure Saint’s Home as a platform to reach out to more people, but in 2010, the name was changed to Helpline Foundation for the Needy Abuja, because people always asked for the location of the home each time the media reported our events to enable them visit and present gifts to the children. Also, the need to really expand our scope of operations made the change of name inevitable”.
Ahmadu who also believes that there is light at the end of the tunnel for women, especially young girls with promising future, urged them to eschew every act that is capable of enlongating their captivity, refrain from mortgaging God’s ordained Destiny for them.
Suggesting the way forward towards achieving women liberation, she said that there must be full realization by women that, self-placed limitations are more dangerous than those imposed by others.
She also believes that apart from the right policies and environment needed to espouse development for women, the need to stay focused in one’s pursuit was much more pertinent.
Her words: ” my advice is for them is to stay focus no matter their current situation, as no one except oneself can hold you from attaining your full potentials. ”
To give them the opportunity of having informed choices, this girl-child project usually brings established women from different fields of endeavor to mentor young, underprivileged girls and provide a platform for young Nigerian girls to express themselves.
“It also educates them on their rights and opportunities available to them for growth, as well as provide a platform for them to interact, among others.
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