Founded in 2004 by a group of local women in Kaduna, Nigeria, Girl Child Concerns works to empower adolescent girls through improved educational opportunities. According to UNICEF, only 35% of Nigerian children between the ages of 12 and 17 are attending secondary school. Traditionally, access to education in the northern states, which are predominantly Muslim, has been much lower, with the gender gap even wider. Secondary school enrollment rates for girls in some northern states are estimated to be as low as 15%. Girls in this part of the country face numerous barriers to education, including poverty and cultural expectations. Moreover, stringent interpretations of Islam prevent many girls from obtaining an education.
In 2004 Girl Child Concerns identified 200 promising girls in primary school and has been providing them with academic support, including scholarships and educational materials, in order to ensure their completion of secondary school and transition into university level education. Leadership and life skills development workshops provide the girls with a safe space to discuss their issues and meet with accomplished women from the northern states who serve as mentors for them and help assuage concerns that parents may have regarding the loss of identity, culture and religion that is often mistakenly associated with formal schooling.
Note: This work was funded by a fellowship from Global Fund for Children (Grassroots Girls Initiative) and the Nike Foundation (Girl Effect) in partnership with the International Center of Photography.
For more information about Girl Child Concerns visit www.girlchildconcerns.org