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I stand with the girl child

I RECENTLY have been paying apt attention to the unfolding events in the Somalia presidential race, not because the election will influence major foreign policy discussions, one which the United States election is already shaping but because of a particular aspirant whose campaign is redefining the playing field and reinforcing the truism that girl child education is an economic and socio-political imperative.

Fadumo Dayib was born in Mogadishu to a very poor family, her father was a taxi driver and her mother a nomad. She was unable to read or write until the age of 14 and really had no ambition in life. However, when Somalia slid into war 26 years ago, her parents were determined to turn the obvious adversity into a fortune and so they sold all they had to send their daughter overseas, she was only 18 at the time.

Her relentless determination to re-write the story of her life and to light a torch in her family to disperse the dark horrors of poverty fuelled her journey to becoming a renowned expert in public health. She said in an interview recently that “I come from a society where women are almost nothing, not taken seriously, just waved away”, perhaps, more than anything else, her journey from being the daughter of a nomad to contesting a presidential election, will prove a counter narrative.

The story of Fadumo Dayib should not only inspire us but drive us to create a better policy environment that will ensure the replication of Dayib across the 774 local governments across our country. We have to take a stand on the future of the girl child and re-open the tough conversations that are eating up the dreams of these little girls.

We would have to answer very tough and somewhat unsettling questions, questions like if we want a country where we lack concrete legislation prohibiting the marriage of little girls before the age of 18 simply because someone thinks she is ripe enough.  If Fadumo Dayib was given away in marriage by her parents rather than investing in her future, will she be contesting elections today and giving hope to millions of girls across Africa? If she was pregnant at 14 what kind of life would she be living today?

We cannot afford to keep playing Russian roulette with the lives of our daughters, they deserve a sound education, they deserve our protection and guidance and above all only they should have the right to make marital decision at the right age.  On this I agree with Reno Omokiri, that it makes no sense to deny a girl a driving licence and the right to vote because she hasn’t turned 18 yet describe her as fit for marriage.

While we look up to Fadumo Dayib, Hilary Clinton, Angela Markel, Aung San Suu Kyi, Joyce Banda, Theresa May, let us be aware that right there in our houses is a young girl capable of changing the world if only we could believe in her well enough to create a spring board rather than a pit hole to launch her towards prominence.

I stand with the girl child.

Mr.Ayodele Adio, a social critic, wrote from lagos.


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