One hundred secondary school girls between the ages of 11 and 16 have been awarded a scholarship grant of N100, 000 each as part #MyFutureStartsToday initiative aimed at fostering leadership qualities in the girl child as well as developing their writing skills.
The #MyFutureStartsToday kicked off in August with a viral video portraying the stories of some Nigerian girls and their everyday challenges.
Secondary school girls between 11 and 16 were then invited to write essays talking about their dreams and the challenges they face.
Over 2,000 entries were received from which the winning 100 entries were picked.
The victorious girls will also be assigned to a mentorship programme with Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), an organisation that is committed to the socio-economic development of young girls.
WIMBIZ is a non-for-profit aimed at the all-round development of the girl child through capacity building, mentorship, training and advocacy.
Schools in Lagos State and Abuja will be selected to host the mentorship programme, the organisers say.
Apart from the 100 winners, girl pupils in the selected schools will also have the opportunity of being mentored and inspired to achieve their potentials, the organisers revealed.
“The education of girls is important for us. In fact, Always advocates the empowerment of girls and women. In our bid to continue to contribute to Nigeria and Nigerian girls and women, we have launched this platform to reach more girls and help them to achieve their potentials,” said Tolu Adedeji, the Brand Marketing Director, Procter&Gamble Nigeria, the sponsors of the initiative.
Mr. Adedeji said the #MyFutureStartsToday came about after a survey by his company revealed that 61 per cent of girls do not feel they have the right support to pursue their preferred career choice.
Speaking during the award ceremony, the keynote speaker, Uche Pedro, said it is important for girls to realise that they can achieve whatever they set out to do.
“We live in a world where girls are often told that they cannot achieve certain feats simply because they are girls but that notion is wrong,” she said.
“I strongly believe that with confidence a girl can achieve whatever she wants. This is why I joined Always in this campaign to help girls dream big, and aspire towards their dreams,” Ms Pedro, who is the founder of Bella Naija, an entertainment and lifestyle blog, added.
Christopher Ameh, a parent of one of the awardee said the initiative will inspire girls and boost their confidence.
“I must say that this is an amazing initiative from Always. Not only will it inspire girls to dream big and improve on the validity of their dreams, it will also push them further towards the attainment of those dreams,” Ameh said.
Other notable Nigerian women involved in the #MyFutureStartsToday Campaign include Ola Orekunrin, the founder, Flying Doctors Nigeria and Mercy Eghonghon, a Nigerian Pilot who started flying at age 17 and became a captain at 25 years.
Jayne Augoye is an assistant editor and covers the entertainment and lifestyle beat for PREMIUM TIMES. She has a master's degree in Media and Communication from the Pan Atlantic University. Twitter: @jaynejones