The PAVE Project: Empowering, Supporting and Equipping Young Girls to Make Informed Decisions
The Platform for Amplifying Voice and Empowerment (PAVE) of girls empowers young girls who in turn empower other peers. The project is currently implemented in 4 locations in Lagos State and the project communities share common attributes including their economic status, underserved and pitched in the outskirts of Lagos State, away from major city activities.
P.A.V.E continues to make its impact by supporting and equipping over 300 girls in Ikorodu and Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Areas of Lagos with skills, knowledge and tools that will further advance the socio-economic life the project communities. Indeed, empowered girls can make more informed decisions as regards their health, finance and personal development, a phenomenon that is nearly alien in many communities in Nigeria.
Adolescence is a critical phase in the development of every child even though, the extent of its significance is often downplayed due to gender inequality woven deep in the fabric of many native societies.
Adolescence coincides with a child’s early introduction to various forms of gender inequalities. This is reflected in many ancient sages and folktales that identify members of the same human community based on their gender disparities. Although gender-based violence is not limited to the female gender, prejudice, stereotype and discrimination against women and girls is disproportionately prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. In these communities, the rights and voices of women have been reduced to a faint sob.
Adolescent girls in Nigeria are subject to various forms of gender-based violence and abuse, with child marriage, female Genital mutilation/cutting and sexual violence accounting for the highest prevalence, according to a 2022 United Nations Women report on Nigeria.
Less Talk, More Action…
There are several data that links the likelihood for national prosperity with girls and women empowerment and financial inclusion. In many communities to date, access to quality information and education, clean water and sanitation facilities, healthcare that caters to the physiological and mental health of young people is a very distant reality. In the grand scheme of things, neglect for young people, particularly girls in many cultural settings in low and middle-income countries like Nigeria continue to threaten the attainment of the 2030 SDGs. In our project communities, this has led to rising cases of teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortion, maternal mortality.
When girls are affected by these factors, the implication is curtailed opportunities in terms of health and economic outcomes for many women.
In Nigeria, women make up approximately same population size as their male counterpart. Should there, therefore, be a distinction to the right to health and well-being, education, decent work & economic empowerment, cleaner environment among others? You guessed right, if you said – No! there shouldn’t be a distinction.
While we recognize the distinct role of gender in any society, we can all agree that both girls and boys are entitled to the full complement of their “universal, inalienable, indivisible” human rights.
Currently, HACEY is implementing a One-year fellowship program under its PAVE project, with the support of EmpowerUK, set to train, support and provide mentorship for adolescent girls in Ikorodu and Ibeju-Lekki local government areas of Lagos state.
PAVE creates the ideal platform where girls from various background can form meaningful relationships and create a positive social network across Nigeria and beyond. For us, we believe the voice of one empowered girl can do so much. Yet can you imagine if hundreds of empowered girls amplify their voices across Nigeria? Certainly, communities will benefit immensely in terms of health and economic outcomes.
One of the earliest successes recorded in the PAVE Project has been focused on Climate Action and the protection of ecosystems, one of the most crucial sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Lagos is made of various running streams that feed the Atlantic. In many Lagos-based communities, the marine ecosystem represents life, rich economy, culture and productivity. One of such communities lies quietly beside the Odooro waters in Ijede local council development area, Ikorodu local government.
Apart from its economic importance, it’s alluring appearance has proven health benefits and cultural significance. As you draw closer to its shimmering shoreline, you are immediately serenaded with a soft embrace that leaves you literally spellbound at nature’s magnificence.
But Odoro shoreline has also been on the ‘receiving end’ of environmental battery from various anthropogenic activities by the natives and visitors.
In our hearts lingered, an urgent need for concerted effort to do ‘less talk, more action’ to restore, and protect the ecosystem. Therefore, following the five-day summer camp, the PAVE team having enjoyed the ambience of the sea breeze got its first ‘aha’ moment with the support of the local authority at Ijede LCDA and participants of the PAVE fellowship in Ijede LCDA.
Saving ODOORO Waters…
A Beach Clean Up project was implemented on the 9th of September, 2022. The river bank was a garden daubed in blue, red, pink and yellow petals. For most of the girls, it was their first community service. There was not a lot of equipment on site like those used in a typical beach clean up, all the PAVE girls had, were “just willing hands and a resolve” to bring about social change in their community. The marine ecosystem of Odooro if well-conserved and protected can provide immense benefits for Ijede community and the city of Lagos. Indeed, this is the goal of PAVE: that empowered girls, can empower girls, that empower their communities.
By Akinmayowa Adedoyin Shobo