by Tokunbo Kujore, Impact Analyst and Founder, Afro Girls
A couple of weeks ago, I read a post on Twitter that completely changed the way I feel about the coronavirus pandemic and the work that I have been dedicated to for years. In a thread of coronavirus school closure retweets across Africa, a father tweeted "even if the government did not close the schools, I have taken my daughter out." He followed up with, “the one she has done this semester is enough.”
I did my best to look at his tweet objectively. Fortunately, unfortunately, it’s an ironic part of our culture to make light of challenging situations, so he probably meant no harm in his message by insinuating that his daughter didn't need any more time at school. He may be a caring father, concerned with the health and safety of his child and family. It may have even been an attempt to get some laughs. Who knows? To the people who have spent their entire life's work creating awareness, platforms and organizations about the importance of keeping girls in school like me however, those nine words could quite possibly set the progress we have made in girls education back years.
As the the global quarantine brings to light the unpaid work women provide daily to their communities and families, girls are even more vulnerable to early marriage and other unfavorable challenges that young women in underdeveloped countries are susceptible to. My fear, amongst the quite obvious fears of health, security and the state of humanity that we are all enduring, is that guardians who were once convinced to advocate for their girls and their wellbeing and those who allowed them to go to school, will now use the pandemic and the state of global affairs as an excuse to restrict their daughters and sisters to go back or to even go at all once we settle in our new normal post-pandemic.
While stopping the spread of the virus and keeping everyone healthy is priority, I want to challenge us, especially in the global impact community, to use any time that we are mentally able to spare to prepare for a post-pandemic world, with an emphasis on taking action for girls and girls education and gender equality in the meantime, together. The current conditions have changed how we can support girls, but Afro Girls remains committed to finding ways to create awareness, meet girls' needs and promote their health, safety, and wellbeing with partners. If we’ve learned anything from everything going on thus far, it's that partnerships are key.
It's the Decade of Action and with the majority of the world working from their homes online, here's how we can keep the conversation going and digitally create impact as we collectively make sense of what is going on:
1. Research: Research the causes that matter the most to you.
Take the time to research causes that mean the most to you and find out how you can be of service. What are you passionate about? What type of change would you like to affect in the world? Is it girls education in Africa or climate change? There are hundreds of credible resources and organizations already doing the groundwork. Do your research and educate yourself on the causes that need the most support.
2. Connect: Connect with like-minded change makers.
Reach out to the organizers and agents of change. See what isn’t being done and how you can help from your home. Find examples of people who are actively using their spaces to create impact on and offline and see how you can be of service.
3. Post: Use the time to create awareness on your social-media platforms.
Social media is a tool that can be used for both good and evil. Respectfully use your social platforms for good by creating awareness for the causes that matter the most to you.
4. Build: Create Partnerships that will last beyond this trying time.
Partnerships are extremely important in this time. If there's anything that this time has shown us, it's that we can actually come together to achieve SDG 17 to conquer challenging situations. We can do the same to combat climate change and gender equality and quality education; all of which also directly impact the way we live our lives as a global community.
We have only each other to be accountable for. If you are fortunate enough to use your voice to advocate for others in this time of uncertainty, become the voice. We have lost enough for a lifetime. The world could use someone like you right now.