Omotola who lost her dad at 12 and had to start fending for her family at the early age of 15, stressed that all children are important, regardless of gender, and the possibilities a girl child has should never be underestimated. She wrote:
“On today’s girl child day I’ll do an unusual post true to me.
“As a child, I lost my father age 12. Sponsored by a great community of Ondo men, the #Ekimogun club, so I could continue my education.
“At age 15, started struggling to help my widowed mother. I started working in the Entertainment Industry. While going to school, and working, faced many challenges as a female child… talks of being loose, perhaps being a prostitute, lack of freedom to mingle like male counterparts, rumours and fear of slander, sexual harassments… but one of my early dreams was to be great at whatever I chose and be side by side the best in the World.
“I’m not totally there yet, … but.. That 12-year-old Iyanaipaja little girl did take care of her widowed mum till she died, took care of her younger brothers… they are in marriage stages now, taking care of herself and her own family, taking care of a few people she is privileged to be able to.
“She has worked, spoken on, been awarded on World stages, and has been compared to the people she admired when growing up, from other parts of the World… She’s still a work in progress but…
“Don’t you dare Underestimate the possibilities of a girl child.”
Omosexy, as she is fondly called, has been described as the “Angelina Jolie of Nigeria”. The top Nollywood actress has appeared in over 300 films, selling millions of copies. She has also received high-profile awards and also launched a music career. She is the first African celebrity to receive over 1 million likes on her Facebook page.
The UN had designated every Oct. 11 as International Day of the Girl Child to highlight and address the needs and challenges faced by the girl-child.
The theme for 2017 is: “EmPOWER girls: Before, during and after conflict” and the additional hashtags introduced for this year’s commemoration are; #FreedomForGirls, #StartTheConvo, #IDG and #DayoftheGirl.
According to UNESCO, humanitarian crises hurt women and girls the most. They comprise more than three-quarters of the refugees and “displaced persons at risk” from war, famine, persecution and natural disaster. They are then more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation on their way to and in refugee camps. They are also vulnerable in their countries of origin.
“Every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence. In humanitarian emergencies, gender-based violence often increases, subjecting girls to sexual and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation and trafficking. Adolescent girls in conflict zones are 90 percent more likely to be out of school when compared to girls in conflict-free countries, compromising their future prospects for work and financial independence as adults,” the UN said.
Africa has nine out of the ten toughest countries for a girl to get an education, another proof that girls are getting left behind when it comes to education.
According to a new ONE Campaign report, “girls are 57 percent more likely than boys to be out of school at the primary level, and the disparity only gets worse as girls get older” — rising to 83 percent at the upper secondary level.
So the question remains – what are we doing to ensure that every girl we know – our daughters, the daughters of our domestic help, the daughters of our neighbours – goes to school?