When you think of a young leader, what characteristics come to mind? If you’re thinking passion, courage, intelligence, and role model, we’ve got just the person for you!
This week, we are introducing you to Elizabeth Williams, a 20 year old 300 level student of Accounting at the University of Lagos in Nigeria. Elizabeth is a role model to so many girls in her community and around the world. At a young age, she has become a strong voice for promoting young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health information and resources. Her voice has been heard across the globe in places like the UN Headquarters in Washington DC and at the World Council of Churches in Geneva where she recently was a youth delegate discussing Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Nigeria.
Want to know how Elizabeth gets to be so cool? Listen to her, in her own words, describe herself, passion, and her inspiration. She also shares her advice to girls.
Elizabeth’s #StrongEnough story:
- Tell us about (describe) yourself.
Elizabeth is a dark-skinned young lady who hails from the Northern part of Nigeria, Kaduna State to be precise. I am a Christian (Catholic). I come from a family of four children and I am the first child of my parents. I am a student of the prestigious University of Lagos in my third year studying Accounting.
- What are your hobbies (things you enjoy doing)?
I like watching movies, listening to music, making new friends, travelling to new places, and engaging in productive discussions and activities.
- What activities are you involved with in your community?
I am a volunteer/peer educator for three different Non-Governmental Organizations. I am a Volunteer for Youth Empowerment development Initiative (YEDI) as a Skillz Girls Coach training girls to be peer educators. I am a Volunteer for Action Health Incorporated (AHI) in strengthening their programs in terms of youth engagement and participation. I am also a member of the Youth Participatory Platform with United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA) charged with the duty of ensuring that the needs of young people are addressed in the programs of UNFPA and to serve as a liaison between young people and UNFPA. I am also a Shuga Peer Educator and I carry out sessions at the Hello Lagos Youth Friendly centers in Lagos State, particularly in Ikeja.
- Who or what inspires you?
What really inspires me are the millions of girls who are looking up to me from where I come from. I come from the Northern part of Nigeria which frowns at the education of the girl child and is welcoming to the menace of early child marriage. I was opportune to reside in Lagos state where their principles are quite different although we also face this challenge but on a minimal scale. The fact that I can actually make a difference and be a role model to the millions of girls who live in this part of Nigeria (Northern part) continues to inspire me to do more towards ensuring that with every step taken, we may be closer to creating a world where every girl in the North and in the world at large would not be deprived of their right to education and be free from the menace of early child marriage.
- Is there something you are passionate about? If yes, what is it?
Well I get to be told a lot of times by my friends that I am a feminist. The one thing I am passionate about is advocating for the rights of girls, why? Because girls are the ones who have to “go a step further” for everything; education, health services, employment, the list is endless. I am not saying that boys do not also go through this discrimination but records have shown that girls are the most discriminated against. All what I strive for is a world that is not gender biased but implements gender equality. Let both boys and girls be given “equal” responsibilities and opportunities in life.
- What is the biggest challenge that you see facing girls in your community?
The biggest challenge that I see facing girls in my community is “teenage pregnancy”. A lot of girls engage in unprotected sexual intercourse at a very young age and fall victim of teenage pregnancy. This prevents them from completing their education and sometimes even leads to them losing their lives or damaging their wombs which is as a result of patronizing quack doctor’s abortions as abortion is not legalized in Nigeria and is against the cultural beliefs of the community.
- What advice would you like to share with girls in your community?
The advice I do give to the girls I meet every day during my volunteer work, advocacy and outreach programs is that they should prioritize their goals in life and live a healthy sexual life. Always learn to apply the ABC formula which is Abstinence, Be faithful to one partner and Condom use. For young people “Abstinence” is always the best as this prevents you from falling victim to teenage pregnancy or contracting Sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS and it is 100% sure.
- Who is your favorite female leader/role model, and why?
My favorite female leader/role model is Mrs. Adenike Esiet. She is the Executive Director of Action Health Incorporated. She is a woman of intellect, charisma, and passion for promoting the well-being of young people. She has and continues to make positive difference in the lives of young people especially young girls in Nigeria. I have learnt a lot from her and I continue to learn hoping to get to the level and even surpass that which she has reached.
- What do the words “Strong Enough” mean to you?
To me, the words “Strong Enough” means as a girl I can achieve anything as long as I am determined and I set my mind to it, no matter the challenges or problems that might come my way, I would surely overcome.
- Do you have a favorite quote/verse/song lyric?
My favorite quote is “little drops of water makes a mighty ocean”, no matter how small your contribution, it’s a step closer to making a difference.
My favorite song lyric is “if we have a world of ordinary people, extraordinary things will happen to me and you”, the world just needs ordinary people doing extraordinary things to make the world a better place.
- Would you like to tell us anything else?
I am really excited and glad to be part of this great initiative, the Strong Enough Girls’ initiative. I look forward to making my own contribution in the little way I can and I do hope that the lives of millions of girls would be positively reached through this initiative.
Thanks for inspiring us, Elizabeth, to know that regardless of where you come from, you have the power to speak and stand up for yourself and to be a role model to others. We are proud of you and we celebrate you as a #StrongEnoughGirl. Our hope is that other girls follow in your brave footsteps and leave their imprints in the sands of time. Keep letting your star shine!
*Do you know an outstanding young lady (aged 13-25 years) in your community? Recommend her to be featured. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “SEG of the Week.”*