Ebun!

Ebun in the Yoruba language means Gift or Talent. Ebun was born in kingala, a nice part of Africa. She was born into a land filled with gold and riches. Right from childhood, she got this love and kindness from everyone. But as she continues to grow, she continues to witness extreme marginalization because she was born a female. Just like everyone, she wants to dream, she wants to go to the best schools but unfortunately, she found herself in darkness, a rural community, where the girl child is not given an opportunity to access quality education. She saw the guys in her neighborhood learning but she was told, her place was not to learn.

Ebun didn't really feel bad, but she knew she deserved more. She was taught to wash dishes, cook, clean the house and watch the children play in the neighbourhood. Ebun became a professional in house chores. She knew how to arrange the plates in the house. She knew how to sweep the floor well but she never could do simple mathematics. She found it difficult to calculate the change she receives in the market and couldn't understand simple sentences.

She tried and tried to learn but she couldn't because in her family, they do not support the female child. Ebun even tried to go to school on her own. She couldn't take it any longer and sneaked out of the house to learn. She went to school and she was told to bring her parents, Ebun felt devastated hearing that. She couldn't tell her parents because they would tell her she isn't meant for school, she is meant for the room. Neither she couldn't tell her Uncle, there was no one Ebun could talk to. She summoned courage to tell her mum but because they were dwelling in poverty, her mum told her to face the home work. She said, "My daughter! You are beautiful and courteous, you are also good at doing house chores. You would make a very good wife and you will marry a very rich husband. Don't worry!"

Ebun actually didn't want to become a house wife because she had seen Aunty Kemi, her cousin who accepted the same predicaments and currently lives in poverty. She wants to contribute to the development of the society. Ebun knew how aunty Kemi shared with her how she had wanted to become a lawyer but couldn't.

Ebun however dared to be different but was pull down by her parents and sundries. Even aunty Kemi couldn't support. She actually loved computers but haven't seen one except in T.V.

Ebun grew older and found politics interesting but she couldn't contribute because she couldn't speak English. Whenever she tries, she is talked down upon even by her fellow women. She tried all her best but couldn't. Ebun couldn't realize her full potential.

Across Africa, Ebun is one of the 9 million girls between the ages of about 6 and 11 who will never go to school at all, compared to 6 million boys, according to UIS data. Their disadvantage starts early: 23% of girls are out of primary school compared to 19% of boys. By the time they become adolescents, the exclusion rate for girls is 36% compared to 32% for boys.

For every 100 boys of primary school age out of school, there are 123 girls denied the right to education (Unesco Institutes of Statistics). Ebun is one of those girls denied.

More so, more than 49 million girls are out of primary and secondary school in sub-Saharan Africa, with 31 million of them out of secondary education, undermining their rights and limiting their opportunities (UIS). Ebun is one of the 49 million and her opportunities has been limited.

Ebun once again means gift, talent but her environment didn't allow her to blossom. We can all work together to change this. Let's give all the Ebun in our society a chance to thrive.

Let's empower the girl child. When we do that, we empower the nation.

Hammed Kayode Alabi
SDGs Youth Champion

Caption: GPS Girl Child Conference

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