Once upon a time, in a mixed gender secondary school, as the academic year was ending, the management had intensified its effort at appointing new school prefects. In the bid to do my part, I invited one of the female students, whose character and academic standards had been exceptional. I wanted to know her thoughts about a girl becoming the senior prefect of the school (which ordinarily, boys had taken the post). Without delay, she answered, “Sir, no! no! a boy is always the senior prefect and is assisted by a girl.” From her reply I could deduce a feeling of lack of self-confidence. Such is typical in most African mixed gender secondary schools, where girls are always the assistant prefect. I have tried to ask why this is the case, and no sufficient reason seem to suffice from those who approve of it.
The lack of self-confidence among African girls is continuously sustained by conventions (especially culture, traditions, rituals, and religion), that have over the ages made girls ok with the thought of being an assistant to their male counterpart. In other words, subduing themselves under the influence that “it is a man’s world.” Where then is the woman’s world? One would ask.
Looking deeper, it is evident that the rise in lack of self-confidence among girls in Africa, is not because they are being forced to do so, but on their own, by themselves, they have accepted to remain on the side lines. In Africa, if a girl is caught in a bad act, people tend to react more, not really as a result of her gender, but because her innocence is at stake, and she might not be able to fetch a good bride price.
Everyday we see and hear stories which prove that girls are value-filled. Girls hold the key to bringing about change. If excellence is associated with girls, one would ask, why is the loss of self-confidence among African girls on the increase? To address this, there is a need to bridge the gap in the lack of available resources, education, and inadequate training for girls.
A lot is expected to be done to assist most African girls , to be self-confident. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through educational programs such as the Girls’ Advancement Program, which focuses on educating girls about their health, rights, and finances, giving them confidence to follow their dreams. Asante Africa Foundation’s mission is to “Educate and empower the next generation of change agents, whose dreams and actions transform the future for Africa and the world.” Over the years this foundation, through its members, you the community, have been assisting in advocating and building the African girl child. This great assistance is doing so much to provide and make resources available for enhanced coordination and adequate training for girls in East Africa. The result of this has been enormous, but still a lot of African girls are yet to be reached.
It is because of your giving hand, Asante Africa Foundation continues putting to good use what you have given to enhance and improve girls’ situations in Africa. Making them believe in themselves, and not hide under the shadow of being subdued. African girls are brilliant, intelligent and resourceful. There are little or no programs in continuous existence through which they can advance themselves. Since you and I are desirous to reach out to these lovely girls in Africa, let our spirit not be weakened, because as a result of our generosity, hope to a great extent is restored to a girl child in Africa.
- Written by: Innocent Iroaganachi