Bring back our girls

One Young World Ambassador Isaiah Owolabi is co-founder and Project Director of HACEY's Health Initiative, Nigeria. 

Girls are more disadvantaged than their male counterparts in Nigeria. But when girls are empowered society is always better for it, with evidence showing empowering women transforms society across all sectors.

So why did my society choose to fail women or more specifically why did our leadership choose to ignore women? I may not have an accurate answer but I am sure answers are not far away if we analyse the situation confronting us today.

It is now over a month that more than 200 girls were abducted by Boko Haram from their schools and none of us can accurately imagine what the girls are going through right now.

Beyond the enormous support from Nigerians and people from different parts of the world, it is obvious that the issue at hand is beyond security failure. And it is far more than religious extremism and far more than political agitations: a combination of factors forming concrete evidence of Nigeria’s failed leadership and value system - and these girls are paying the price.

The best way for a society to remain relevant is to ensure that women are top of the agenda. I am sad and disappointed that the leadership of my country has failed girls one more time. And I am increasingly concerned when I read the United Nations strategy to help my country; the UN intends to work with the Ministry of Women affairs and other government agencies to provide support. I know this is probably the status quo or best practise, I may not be the best of a diplomat but I know that we cannot consult the same entity (Nigerian Government) that failed these girls to help them at the most crucial point of their life. The UN and other supporting agencies need better strategies to confront the issues at hand[IL1] .

The girls abducted in Chibok reflect much more than the agony of their parents, community or country. They tell the story of many more Nigerian girls who live every day in fear or shame in a bid to become great people. They are the result of missed opportunities to build solid foundation for a great country, and they bring to light many inadequacies in the governance of my country Nigeria.

I still cling to the hope that if the government and leadership across all sectors can be sincere and decide to act in the interest of achieving a great today and much greater future, we can bring back our girls alive into a society where all girls and boys will not live in fear or shame .

This is what I work to achieve every day. Two years ago, my organisation HACEY’s Health Initiative launched the HANDS UP FOR HER (HUFH) initiative to promote girls health, empowerment and rights in Africa.

 I strongly believe that no girl should live in fear or shame in a bid to succeed in life and that’s what the HUFH initiative is all about.

Equality is the only way Nigeria can ensure a great future.