Sexual/domestic violence, illiteracy, teenage pregnancy. What do these words have in common?
They are all issues that disproportionately affect the state and quality of girls’ lives globally.
What would it take to help girls live out their full potential in good health? Answer: strong and determined leadership and commitment to advancing girls’ rights and dignity.
Our Strong Enough Girl of the Week is a phenomenal example of a young and vibrant leader who is not just passionate about improving the well-being of girls, but also setting the example through advocacy and program implementation. Meet Olaoluwa Abagun of Lagos, Nigeria. Olaoluwa is a 24-year old student of the Nigerian Law School and Founder of Girl Pride Circle, an NGO (non-government organization) geared towards advocating for girls’ rights across Africa and empowering girls to transform their communities.
This is Ola’s #StrongEnough story:
- Tell us about (describe) yourself.
I am an unapologetic feminist, vocal girls’ rights advocate, lawyer-in-Training and Founder of “Girl Pride Circle” – an NGO geared towards advocating for girls’ rights across Africa and empowering girls to transform their communities.
Born and bred in Lagos Nigeria, my leadership journey began at the tender age of 13, when I was selected to represent Lagos State as a Senator in the Nigerian Children’s Parliament.
I am currently a Women Deliver Young Leader – one of the 200 outstanding young advocates for the health, rights and well-being of girls and women.
I am also a Learner in the 2015/2016 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) Learners’ Voice Programme.
I hold a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Degree from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
- What are your hobbies (things you enjoy doing)?
I enjoy engaging in insightful conversations, travelling to new and exciting places, watching comedy and conducting research on the internet.
- What activities are you involved with in your community?
I have lived most of my life in a semi-urban community in Lagos, where it is no news to see teenage girls drop out of school and become victims of early/forced marriage due to unplanned pregnancies. For me, it was really disturbing to find that girls in my community do not have any formal platform where their voices could be heard or even a functional support system to guide them through the crucial period of adolescence.
In December 2014, I founded Girl Pride Circle in order to affect my community positively, particularly with respect to the social issues I am most passionate about – securing Women/Girls’ Rights and empowering adolescent girls. Till date, my organization has engaged 300 girls through grassroots workshops and school-based programmes, educating them about leadership/entrepreneurship, gender equality, career planning, and sexual/reproductive health and rights
- Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by actual and possible solutions. When people achieve great feats or create innovative solutions to social problems, I am excited beyond words. Also, I never pass up an opportunity to say or do something that bears the slightest potential to improve the status quo. This is why advocacy is “my thing.”
- Is there something you are passionate about? If yes, what is it?
I am most passionate about ensuring that we build a world where girls have access to education, equal opportunities and violence-free communities. I envision a world where no girl has to suffer violence because of her gender…A world where every girl is given ample opportunity to unleash her full potentials.
6. What is the biggest challenge that you see facing girls in your community?
My community (Alimosho Local Government Area) has the second highest prevalence of sexual violence, particularly among adolescent girls in Lagos state. In the coming academic year, my organization would be engaging 250 adolescent school girls and the community at large, in order to chart a road map for preventing sexual violence against adolescent girls in the community.
- What advice would you like to share with girls in your community?
Limits and stereotypes embedded in society are meant to be broken. You are all super girls…You can be ANYTHING and you can go ANYWHERE.
- Who is your favorite female leader/role model, and why?
There are many AMAZING women who inspire me every day. My favorite female leaders and role models are:
- Katja Iverson (CEO, Women Deliver);
- Bineta Diop (Founder, Femmes Africa Solidarite & Special Envoy of the African Union Commission Chairperson on Women, Peace & Security); and
- Princess Mabel Van Oranje (Initiator & Chair of Girls Not Brides)
These women continuously deliver for girls and women in their several dynamic spaces. Meeting and interacting with them at various points in my leadership journey was very groundbreaking. I am particularly inspired by them because they mirror the kind of leader I am working to become in a few years.
- What do the words “Strong Enough” mean to you?
“Strong Enough” means that I am sufficient by myself and I do not depend on external validation to stay awesome. I speak for myself and my only limitation is me.
- Do you have a favorite quote/verse/song lyric?
“If I have to, I can do anything
I am Strong…
I am invincible…
I am Woman!”
– Helen Reddy “I am Woman”
I also love “Titanium” by David Guetta ft. Sia.
Thanks for being our inspiration, Ola. We know that you are impacting numerous lives, and we are proud to have you as a vibrant and unapologetic role model to girls globally. Keep fighting the just cause. We’re with you, together for strong, empowered girls.
Join Ola in speaking for girls’ rights and empowering adolescent girls. Kindly like the “Girl Pride Circle” page on Facebook and subscribe to the blog – http://www.girlpridecircle.blogspot.com
We also extend our congratulations to Olaoluwa as she was recently awarded a seed grant from Women Deliver to implement her project: “Safe Kicks Initiative: Adolescent Girls Against Sexual Violence.”
***LET’S HEAR FROM YOU!!!***
Do you have a question for Olaoluwa? Are you curious about what it’s like to be a Women Deliver Young Leader? Kindly share your thoughts/questions in the comments box below. We will respond to you.