This month, we are highlighting an outstanding young woman from the Republic of Niger who is breaking barriers in her community and country to give girls a voice. Halimatou Zika Sombeizé is a 24-year old 3rd year student of Engineering at Ecole des Mines de l’Industrie et de la Geologie (EMIG). In a country where 3 in 4 girls marry before their 18th birthday and girls/women are expected to be quiet, Halimatou is championing the rights of girls to go to school and be leaders in their community. She is the founder and president of Cellule Nigerienne des Jeunes Filles Leaders (CNJFL), an organization that promotes women’s leadership in Niger and helps young girls with the various problems they encounter in society. Halimatou lives in Niamey and was recently selected as a 2017 MILEAD Fellow.
Here is Halimatou’s #StrongEnough story:
- Tell us about (describe) yourself.
Coming from Dosso 87miles far from Niamey, I have the luck to study at the best schools of my country. I’m a sociable woman. After being a youth parliamentarian, I’m very engaged in girl emancipation and women autonomisation.
- What are your hobbies (things you enjoy doing)?
Watching films, talking about constructive ideas with friends (good debate), reading principally on internet
- What activities are you involved with in your community?
Formation of girls on leadership, sensitization on school importance (girls schooling and retention) and children and women’s rights.
- Who or what inspires you?
Halimatou Hima. She is the first president of the youth parliament of Niger. She is a model of girl education. She received her Master’s degree from Harvard university and is presently pursuing her PhD at Cambridge in Development Economics and International Development. She is very engaged on girls’ education.
Roukaya Hamani is also a past youth francophone parliamentarian. She is very dynamic. She promotes pan-Africanism and is a very good citizen.
Nafissa idé Sadou is the coordinator of an NGO Femme Action et Développement (Women Action and Development). She is very engaged in women and girls’ leadership and empowerment. She is a great and very dynamic fighter.
- Is there something you are passionate about? If yes, what is it?
Yes, having enough means to change women and girls’ life conditions in my community.
- What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced? How did you get through it?
The birth of our organization Cellule Nigerienne des Jeunes Filles Leaders (CNJFL). I had to rely on my friends (other girls of the organization) and I didn’t give up. Doors were closing to me but with the help of my friends I continued to knock on other doors until we were successful.
- What is the biggest challenge that you see facing girls/young women in your community?
Sometimes it is difficult to sensitize girls because of their mentality; they are afraid to change. Sometimes women think that I’m too young to explain to them some realities or to give advice.
- What advice would you like to share with girls/young women in your community?
My first advice is that girls/women have to know that they have some rights as well as men. That they are stronger. They have to look for the knowledge because only it sets free. It can be another knowledge different from school one. They have a voice and can be independent.
- Who is your favorite female leader/role model, and why?
Nafissa Idé Sadou. She has an NGO of women action for development. She is very dynamic, helps girls and women of all areas of Niger. For me she is the best.
- What do the words “Strong Enough” mean to you?
For me it means to have sufficient energy, power to confront any thing.
- Do you have a favorite quote/verse/song lyric?
Yes. “Search for knowledge, it will make you a free person.”
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Halimatou. We are inspired by your courage and determination to help girls have and pursue their ambitions fearlessly. We celebrate you as a 2017 MILEAD Fellow and our #SEGoftheMonth. Keep standing up for girls. We know that your leadership contributions will help shape and transform the future of Africa and the world.
You can follow Halimatou’s girls association via their facebook page: “Cellule Nigerienne des Jeunes Filles Leaders (CNJFL)”
LET’S HEAR FROM YOU!!!
Are you inspired? Do you know a Strong Enough Girl in your community? We want to hear from you! Send a message and nominate a #SEGoftheMonth to firstname.lastname@example.org