“I can see with new eyes why our one-to-one approach to empower young women is so valuable.”
Emma is a recent graduate living in Lagos, Nigeria. Like so many other young Nigerian students, she found both her national service and time studying both exciting and challenging. Studying whilst living in crowded dorms with little space to study or cook was hard for her and many of her peers, and the challenges that so many face in balancing responsibilities at home with their dreams for self-improvement and advancement in a very competitive environment.
“I am looking forward to delivering the leadership programme that I participated in whilst I was a student to new students. We have had to wait due to COVID. Since graduating and entering the workplace I want more than ever to give other young women the chance to get good jobs and to be prepared for the workplace. Our programme also offers a safe place to study to female students and this is such an important resource. Talking to people from other countries during Project GROW I realised that people in other countries don’t realise that here there are so many barriers to study and personal development. Data is so expensive that accessing learning online can be a challenge. Most students have a phone, but many cannot afford tablets or laptops. Even before that: many students live in cramped accommodation without desks, sharing a room with many others, so they cannot study there. University study spaces may be hard to find, and it can be dangerous to be there late at night as a young woman. Electricity here is patchy, and you may struggle to find a well-lit place to study or to charge your phone. All of this presents a challenge.
“Our leadership programme and safe study space are essential for so many students. As a young woman without connections, how are you meant to understand how to apply for a job, or what employers expect of you? How can you learn what are just or unjust expectations from employers? How do you learn to be a leader in your office environment, even if it is just ensuring that your own rights are respected? And we also see that the future of Nigeria is in our hands. Each of us can contribute through the things we do and decisions we make.
“I would never have thought of myself as a ‘youth worker’ before this programme. It’s not my profession, but I can clearly recognise its importance, and the importance to do it professionally, and with high-standards, even as a volunteer.