No fewer than 552 adolescent girls across the Southwest have been trained and empowered by a Non Governmental Organisation, Value Female Network (VFN) in Osun State at the third edition of the NGO’s 3-day Adolescent Boot Camp.
VFN was able to achieve this feat with the aid of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Value Female Network Adolescent Boot Camp (VFN ABC) is one of the organization’s initiatives envisioned to inspire and equip adolescent girls with the right information and skills needed to shape their decisions and become positive disruptive forces.
It is a three day free boot camp for girls between 13 – 19 years that seeks to bring together girls (in-School and Out-of-School) from different communities and background (Rural and Urban) under a controlled and conducive atmosphere for behavioral change information, mentoring, networking and skills (life and vocational) acquisition.
The VFNABC empower teenagers with the right information on issues surrounding leadership and their health and wellbeing which includes: Female Genital Mutilation, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Talks on Teenage Pregnancy, Girl Child Education, Gender Equality and other global goals.
The 3rd edition supported by UNFPA had an attendance of 552 participants and 50 volunteers (Ages 18-30) drawn from every part of Osun state as well as some from Lagos, Oyo and Ogun State. This is an improvement on the first edition (2017) which had 100 participants and the second (2018) which had 350 participants.
Activities like lectures and presentations on reproductive and sexual health, female genital mutilation and other gender based violence advocacy training, life and vocational skills training, panel and parallel sessions and self defense training were lined up for the event. It also had other attractions such as stage drama, poetry, and dance by the participants.
This year’s edition was held at Kunike International School, Osogbo between December 18 to 20 and tagged GIRL-HERO. On day 1, after the arrival of the participants, the Executive Director of VFN, Dr Costly Aderibigbe welcomed everyone and charged the participants to utilise every opportunity the boot camp offered for their benefits.
Addressing the participants on Gender Based Violence, Mrs. Obelawo Fatimah, a consultant at the UNFPA, educated the girls on their role in ending gender-based violence. During this presentation, she talked about how inappropriate relationship can lead to death.
She further emphasised on how the non-practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) helps to keep the female body intact.
The UNFPA official informed the audience about the fact that Nigeria is a patriarchal society, where male dominate, but still, it is everyone’s duty to kill the culture of silence, break the silence and speak out. At the end of the presentation, she encouraged participants to learn all they can and be able to mobilize their peer group to create awareness on FGM.
Speaking on Gender Equality: Role of a Girl Hero in Promoting its Values, Alhaji Lateef Kehinde, Coordinator of an NGO, Child Protection Advocate, encouraged the girls to get involved in politics, and start that by being active from the very beginning. He talked extensively about how females should be able to go for whatever they want, without making their gender a barrier.
On the second day, a health expert, Dr Damilola Ogundina engaged the participants on various aspects of Sexual & Reproductive Health Right (SRHR). Ogundina emphasized on how much everyone should stand up for the right to sexual education, as it prevents unwanted pregnancy. She ended on the note that people should have sex at the right time, at the right place, and in the presence of the right people.
Mrs. Adeola Durodola, the second panelist who works as a programme officer with Action Health Incorporated, Lagos also went further to discuss how many can have access to SHRH and the damages teenage pregnancy can cause for young people. Of great importance, she mentioned, is economic empowerment, for it aids SHRH in its own way.
Speaking on Roles of Girls/Women in Governance, Hon. Olubukola Olaboopo, the Commissioner for Women and Children affairs, who represented the Deputy Governor, Osun State, Mr Benedict Alabi, encouraged participants to ensure they do the right things at the right time.
The commissioner further admonished participants that whatever decisions they make today will impact their future. She also assured participants of the State’s support and reeled out numbers to call in case of help related to gender based violence
The participants asked varying questions on the issues discussed and other matters agitating their minds of which answers were supplied by the panelists.
Other activities held on camp included film show, bon fire, skills acquisitions on how to make Adire, soap, cake, hair, shoes and bags among others.
Participants were given their Hero’s Pack (containing tooth paste, tooth brush, sanitary pad, and a bathing soap with barrier contraceptive option) alongside a clear bag which contains a jotter, pen, tag and SRHR IEC materials.