Breaking Barriers: Girls’ Capacity Building Program Empowers Tomorrow’s Leaders!

In a world where gender equality remains an ongoing battle, Rhealyz Global Empowerment Initiative ’Rhealyz Africa continues in its effort to ensure that the voices of girls are amplified and they are empowered to become End GBV advocates by creating safer schools within their schools and communities. To achieve this, the organization scaled up the Rhealyz Africa Girls’ Capacity Attainment Program, ‘Girls’ CAP’ sponsored by Mundo Cooperante to reach and empower more secondary school girls in the state. The Girls’ CAP Project is meant to empower and equip secondary school girls to become leaders and *Girls’ Advocates in their schools and communities. The two-day capacity attainment program was held between Friday and Saturday, October 13th and 14th, respectively, to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child 2023 at Fiwasaye Girls’ Grammar Schools, and over sixty girls were selected across different secondary schools within Ondo State.

From learning essential life skills through SRHR to exploring issues around gender-based violence (GBV), this program aimed to shatter societal norms and provide these young women with the tools they need to break barriers and reach their fullest potential.

On the first day of the training, the girls were introduced to the organization and its sponsor/partner Mundo Cooperante by the Executive Director of the organization, Damilola Oluwadahun. They were then taken through different facilitation sessions ranging from an overview of GBV and SRHR facilitated by Dr. Ireti Adesida and Oluwakemi Ologbese, respectively. The girls were made to understand what gender-based violence is and that they needed to rise up to create safe spaces for other girls and women like them.

The SRHR session also focused on the need for them to understand and accept their bodies and their sexuality. As the event was also meant to foster group interactions and networking, the girls had different group interactions and were encouraged to work with other members from other schools. They were taught different things relating to their bodies.

During the second day of the training, there was a recap of what they learned during the first day and then a question and answer based on the session they had the first day. There were three major facilitation sessions that took place on the second day. The first session on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was taken by Oluwaferanmi Omolade, one of the alumni of the Rhealyz Africa Girls’ Capacity Attainment Program Club in one of the secondary schools. She clarified what FGM is, the reasons people do it, and some of the myths surrounding the practice. The session ended with a call to action requesting everyone to join the fight against FGM. The second session on the law and the rights of the girl child was taken by Barrister Olajumoke Ogunjebi, the FIDA Ondo State Chairperson, and then the final session on speaking out and finding help was taken by the Special Adviser to the Ondo State Governor on Gender, Chief Mrs. Olamide Falana. She emphasized the importance of speaking up and the role we all have in creating safe spaces.

A fundamental part of the training was the scholarship program for some of the selected girls who are indigent and are struggling to stay in school. Twenty-six (26) of the selected girls were then handed scholarships, which were to encourage them to stay in school. The scholarships include the payment of their school fees, a school bag, notebooks, and textbooks to help with their studies as students. The girls were happy to receive the scholarships from the organization in partnership with Mundo Cooperate. Some of the girls expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the organizations for the show of love and promised to be serious with their academics. After the training, the girls were then handed the certificate of participation and were then commissioned as girls’ CAP champions. They would be expected to return to their schools to set up clubs and work as a team so they could reach more people in their schools and communities.

The executive director then expressed her profound gratitude on behalf of the organization to their sponsors, Mundo Cooperante, the schools, teachers, students, facilitators, and volunteers. According to her, “it is such a fulfilling experience to be a part of the story of these young ones, ensuring that their voices are not silent.” Eniola, one of the beneficiaries also expressed her gratitude to the organizations. According to her “My dad and mum are always pushing me to one another when it is time to pay my fees, I have been struggling and thinking about how to pay my school fees and books as I prepare for my final exams.”

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