Unleashing the Girl Power

Dedication: I'd love to dedicate this story to my parents who defied all odds to see me succeed.

I grew up in a family/community that relegated women and girls for example, when men spoke, women are to remain silent or take the blame for everything whether they are right or wrong. Most times, they woke up as early as 4am to go to the family farmland, working from dawn to dusk, walking through lonely bush paths and having no time for themselves. They were at the mercy of men. Girls on the other hand weren’t privileged to go to school because everyone thought that girl so education was a waste of time as they will end up in the kitchen or in a man’s house giving birth.

On the other hand, my dad never really shares same school of thought with ‘everyone’ who never believed in not empowering women and girls however, he was so poor that he couldn’t fend for my educational needs. I struggled through school as I wore tattered school uniform, had old notebooks, didn’t even have a pen to write in class and wore very old oversized school sandals. Most times, my teacher would bring me out in front if the whole class to scold me, my classmates always made mockery of me and I was usually sent home thereby missing classes, test and even exams.

Whenever the new school term resumes, I never resumed on time because my dad couldn’t pay my fees or other school related levies. I was broken, stressed, sad and depressed. However, there was nothing anyone could do after all, girls education wasn’t supported.

On this fateful day, I had so many thoughts about changing the narrative. What if people saw girls education as normal as boys? What if people put in more resources to support women empowerment, girls right and opportunities? What if everyone sees these things from a different light? I will was determined to make that change happen because no one was ready to “bell the cat”.

Fortunately, after struggling to get into the University, I knew I had to start from somewhere if I wanted to really change the narrative and in my 3rd year at the University on my bed, I founded Youngpearl Organization.

Youngpearl Organization is a community based NGO which I use to advocate for the rights and privileges as well as improve the lives and well-being of marginalized and underprivileged women and girls in rural communities across Nigeria. Women and girls at the grassroot level suffer the most relegation, marginalization, setback and all forms of violence. I have been there so I know how it feels.

Right now, I advance girls education by providing educational learning materials, sanitary pads and scholarships for educationally disadvantaged girls to have access to inclusive quality education, I also organize skill training programs for women where they learn various handwork of their choice so that they can start up a local business and become financially independent. Furthermore, I mentor young girls and women to build their capacities and monitor their progress in their various regions. Additionally, I established a school in my community called Sunrise Academy which enables rural children especially girls learn in a safe and conducive environment, connect to their peers, bond and Excel.

I walked through the valley of uncertainties, not knowing what the future held for me but I had to take my destiny in my hands, become positive and help vulnerable populations have safe spaces to thrive. Now, I’m fulfilled knowing that every girl and young woman out there can “Unleash their Girl Power” and create change.

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Abigail Oseremen Okpebholo

I'm a women and girls right advocate, human rights activist, Founder/Executive Director, Youngpearl Organization, Founder/Co-Director, Sunrise Academy. I'm passionate about girls education and women economic empowerment. I graduated from Delta State University of Nigeria where I studied Microbiology. My hobbies includes travelling, cooking, reading inspirational materials, writing and changing the world one step at a time.