On Wednesday, I attended the invite-only "CODE RED: African Women in Media and Tech," which was hosted by Girl Hub Nigeria in Ikoyi, Lagos. The event brought together powerful women from the media and tech space in order to network as well as hear the plight of the Arewa girl in Northern Nigeria.
According to award-winning MsAfripolitan blogger, writer, and self-described "Africa and Gender expert" Minna Salami, in the northern part of Nigeria, Arewa girls are being married off at the age of 12. Once they get married, they are expected to produce a child within the first year of marriage.
And because the girls are so young, while the overall maternal mortality rate in Nigeria is at 545 deaths for every 100,000 births, in the north, the figure is 1,539 infant deaths for every 100,000 live births.
While I am not one for statistics, one of the stats that caught my attention is that more than 80 percent of women in that region are illiterate.
Just think about that.
Another important point, made by the organization TheGirlEffect.org, is that many of the girls end up contracting HIV/AIDS from their husbands or end up selling their bodies as prostitutes to cope with poverty.
I decided to call out GirlHub specifically for this latest post, because I believe that their strategy of getting high-powered women in a room in order to bring our attention to this matter is a serious step in the right direction.
In order to solve any conundrum, first you have to be aware that the problem exists. I, for one, was not aware of these girls' plights, and to give you further context, while ther are more than 250 million girls in the world, 14 million alone live in Nigeria.
Like GirlEffect.org says, " Girls are the most powerful force for change on the planet." And as my people in Ghana say, "If you educate a woman, you educate a nation." So if you truly care about the future, you better spend some time investing in our girls.
The following video challenged me to act on the part of these Arewa girls. Let's see what effect it has on you:
Here are photographs of the beautiful event:
Jumoke Dada -- a new friend!
The hot spot!
On the walls
On the walls
Minna Salami, sharing powerful poetry about our daughters
Where we mingled. I was one of the first to arrive.
The organizer of the event. Lovely woman!