Providing girls with access to education, healthcare, decent work as well as ensuring they participate in political and economic decision-making processes young women and girl is in line with Goal 5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Sixteen-year-old Mariya Idris is beaming with smiles; she has just received raw materials for the production of Humrah, a homemade mix of scents being produced by women in northern Nigeria. Humrah making is becoming a lucrative business as the locally made mix of scents continues to gain popularity among brides and housewives in the region.
“I love Humrah so I am happy that I have been given raw materials to start producing the perfume,” said a visibly excited Mariya. “Now, when I get married, I won’t have to rely completely on my husband for money and I will also be able to help my relatives. With the skills I have acquired, Allah’s willing I will be self-reliant.”
Mariya, alongside 150 other adolescent girls from 4 other rural communities under Gargari ward of Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area, LGA, of Kano state, in northwestern Nigeria, have just graduated from the Life Skills Club, LSC, a multi-purpose platform for adolescent girls between the ages of 13 and 17.
Members of the life skills clubs are being mentored in areas as diverse as basic literacy, conflict management, communication and financial management as well as trained in various entrepreneurial skills including bead-making, soap-making, cooking as well as fragrances and perfume making.
“We have been taught to always think good of other people, we have learnt leadership skills, civic education and our rights as citizens of our country as well as needs analysis so that we will only spend our money in the right away,” said Mariya
The formation of the life skills clubs in Gargari and neighboring communities was facilitated by UK Department for International Development’s Mobilizing for Development (M4D) programme being implemented in 3 northern Nigerian states of Kaduna, Jigawa and Kano.
M4D is supporting the life skills clubs (for adolescent girls between the ages of 13 and 17) in order empower the girls members of the clubs to be able to engage and articulate their demands within their communities, and with policy makers and service providers as well as provide them with entrepreneurship opportunities.
Lubabatu Isiyaku, a monitor in one of the 6 Life Skills Clubs in Gargari ward, who said she has acquired various skills around leadership, communication and financial management called on people of her community to come forward and complement M4D’s effort adding that having learnt how to produce fragrances, her room will always smell good, when she eventually get married.
Sani Inuwa, the chairman of Gargari community development association stated that before the coming of M4D, girls in the community were only engaged in hawking and said the community will do everything possible to ensure the success of the girls adding that the community would also sponsor the training of 100 girls around literacy, civic education, communication human rights, entrepreneurship as well as health education.
In a related development, in Danguguwa ward of the same LGA, a similar number of girls were graduated from the 6 life skills clubs in the ward.
Speaking to this reporter at the graduation ceremony held in the community’s primary school, Hauwa’u Yusuf, who learnt how to produce homemade pomade, said with the skills she had acquired, she could now relate better with her husband and also be able to support him financially.
Her husband, Shamsu Ibrahim, who works at a local rice mill, and was also at the graduation ceremony, said he was grateful to M4D for the opportunity. “My wife can now support me in taking care of the needs of our children. For example, if the children are sick and I am not around she can take care of their health needs. I am calling on people in our society to emulate M4D,” he said.
Amina Umar, a monitor in one of the life skills clubs in Danguguwa ward said she could now differentiate her ‘needs’ from her ‘wants’.
“We have been taught how to differentiate needs from wants; to give priority to what is important. We learnt how to better spend our money. We have also learnt how to communicate our needs to our leaders and relate well with members of our community,” she said.
Safiyanu Abdulkadir is the chairman of Danguguwa’s community development association; he said the various life skills that the girls were trained on will help reduce incessant cases of divorce in the community.
“This is a challenge on the government whose responsibility it is to ensure these girls become responsible citizens. I am therefore calling on the chairman of our LGA, well to do individuals, and community leaders to come forward and support the sustainability of this initiative,” he urged.
M4D’s work with adolescent girls in Northern Nigeria is seeking to empower all young women and girls, in line with Goal 5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which seeks to provide girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work as well as representation in political and economic decision-making processes.