Grooming Girls for the Digital Age

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Over 700 female students from nine secondary schools in District 6 of the Lagos state Educational Board convened at Darlington Hall, Illupeju, Lagos, recently for the annual Pastor Bimbo Odukoya (PBO) Foundation’s girl empowerment programme.

In commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child, this year’s programme was in line with the general theme of the national event: Girls’ Progress=Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls. With this in mind, this year’s theme tilted towards technology.

Professionals like Sola Amusan from Microsoft Nigeria challenged the students not to limit their dreams. He inspired them to take bold steps towards technology and dismissed the myth that technology is reserved for boys alone.

Social Media etiquette professional and director of Connaissance, Kemi Showemimo had a hearty interactive session with the students on the etiquettes of social media. She engaged the students on how to communicate online, to be wary of the kind of posts they upload on their pages and how to keep their accounts private. She also advised them to be very observant of the kind of friends they keep online. Encouraged by her charisma, the girls shared their ordeal on the online community.

One of the students told of how a friend was lured to rape by her Facebook friends, another recounted how she was desperate for friendship and accepted a friend request from a man who lived in her neighbourhood. The man continually sent nude pictures of him to her and invited her out. She told her mother about it who told her to play along. On the scheduled day of the meeting, she arrived at the destination with her mother who ruined abuses on the man and nearly arrested him.

Such online behaviours and cyberbullying, Showemimo warned, the girls should be wary of.
“Don’t be desperate for friends. You don’t have to accept every friend request. Accept only the ones you know.”

Another speaker at the event was the sexual abuse survivor, Anthonia Ojenagbon, whose inspiring story left the students in awe.
It is not the first time PBO will hold ‘Girl Empowered’ programme but it is the first time the bias is towards technology.

“Girl Empowered this year is being channelled to focus on technology and its vast opportunities. Most girls are shy of the sciences. But we are saying no. You could be a blogger, a web designer, you can have careers in IT where you can be able to change the world. There are no gender-shy in sciences. They should take over the digital space,” said PBO coordinator, Osasu Paul-Azino.

She added that there are partnership talks with Microsoft Nigeria to train a lucky student in the technology of coding and developing mobile apps. The PBO foundation was found on the premise of the vision of the late Bimbo Odukoya. Her passion to see the girl child explore her dreams to full measure spurred the initiative. The foundation also have other campaign programmes such as SHARP 4 U.