Global Youth Ambassador Iswat Badmus tells us how she is making a difference in the lives of children and youth in Nigeria.
At Theirworld we are inspired every day by the amazing commitment of our Global Youth Ambassadors, who help to deliver education and hope in many parts of the world.
One of them is Iswat Badmus from Nigeria. During the pandemic, the 29-year-old has helped students to access digital education, working with fellow GYAs to start an online learning, innovation and life skills platform for teenagers.
She was one of the finalists for Global Youth Ambassador of the Year 2020, after delivering menstrual hygiene management programmes for schoolgirls and facilitating an online skill acquisition programme that has helped more than 2,000 students hone their entrepreneurial, corporate and social skills.
She also appears in Theirworld's special International Women's Day video about the remarkable work of our young activists.
In the latest of our Spotlight On ... series - which talks to interesting people from the world of education - we ask Iswat about her commitment to equity and education.
Why did you become an education activist?
I decided to when I saw the way my society treats girl children. My society believes that boys are supposed to be educated, whereas a girl’s job is to be in the kitchen in her husband’s house.
I also volunteer with an organisation that helps children in rural communities. My job is to make sure that people who donate know where to put their money so it makes the biggest change to the community.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your work and how have you adapted?
Pre-Covid, I was able to host physical events, join campaigns and raise awareness. Now there is no contact between me and the girls I want to help.
When the pandemic struck, I had to think about how we can continue without being physically present. I initiated a programme called Pad Santa. People signed up online to become a Pad Santa to their community and give gifts of pads and sanitary products.
What keeps you motivated when you are campaigning for change?
My conviction that the desired change will occur. Even if it takes a long time, even if it impacts just one person, even if I’m not here any longer, the change I desire will still occur.
Also, the positive feedback from people who are inspired by what I do. I am motivated by people telling me "I love what you do. You have inspired me to do the same in my community."
What issues need to be addressed to ensure girls have equal opportunities for education?
Child marriage, child labour, sexual abuse - these issues don’t give girl children an equal opportunity. When a girl is married off, she is not ready to become a mother. She should be in school with the chance to aspire to what she wants to be.
As well as missing out on learning, what other ways have school closures due to the pandemic impacted girls in your community?
Schools are safe spaces for girls. They protect girls against issues that limit their potential including sexual abuse and child labour. When they are not in school, they are at home tending to house chores. When they are not in school, they are vulnerable.
What is the most important lesson you have learned outside the classroom?
I have learned that wherever I find myself I should strive for change. No matter how little the impact is, no matter how long it takes to become evident, I need to strive to become a change agent.
I intend to develop my community, to develop my society and to become a motivation for somebody.
Why did you become a Global Youth Ambassador with Theirworld?
Because I am passionate about advocating for quality education. Theirworld gives me the platform to collaborate with other people who share my values and are passionate about social change in their community.
This programme gives me a global opportunity to showcase what I do. I’m inspired by how Theirworld advocates to give children - especially of a formative age - a quality education.
If you were making the case for girls’ education to a room full of world leaders right now, what would you say to them?
The best legacy that world leaders can leave behind is giving quality education to girl children. The future is female.
Every nation that is keen about development should look at giving quality education to girls. The development of any nation rests on the shoulders of girl children. They will become great women.