Teenage film-maker and education champion Zuriel stands up for rights of African girls

Zuriel With Nana Akufo Addo
Zuriel with Nana Akufo-Addo, the president of Ghana (Zuriel Oduwole / Twitter)

Girls' education, Right to education

Still only 15, she has been named on an "emerging black women In Hollywood" list and her programme will partner with a foundation to promote equal opportunities for girls.

She’s still only 15. But Zuriel Oduwole is enhancing her reputation as a champion for girls’ education.

The American, of Nigerian and Mauritian descent, has been named an ambassador for the Sahara Foundation to stand up for the rights of girls across Africa.

The foundation will partner with Zuriel’s Dream Up Speak Up Stand Up programme to improve access to education, promote gender equality and create more opportunities for girls.

The appointment comes hot on the heels after the Los Angeles resident was named among the “top 15 emerging black women In Hollywood” because of her documentary film-making classes in countries such as Namibia, Kenya and Nigeria.

Zuriel Oduwole With Schoolgirls At Launch Of Partnership With Sahara Foundation In Ghana

Zuriel Oduwole with schoolgirls at the launch of a partnership with Sahara Foundation in Ghana (Facebook / Sahara Foundation)

Zuriel – who has interviewed more than 20 presidents and prime ministers on her education mission – said: “Entering into this partnership with Sahara Foundation gives me a much bigger platform to contribute to global efforts aimed at empowering the girl child. 

“With Sahara’s support, I hope to enhance my film-making classes for girls which have proven to be a strong empowerment medium.”

Over nine million girls of primary-school age are out of school in sub-Saharan Africa. Zuriel began making films in 2012 and has produced several documentaries highlighting the issue, including Follow the Ball for Education and Educating and Healing Africa out of Poverty.

At the age of 10, she became the youngest person to be interviewed by Forbes magazine and last year it named her one of Africa’s 100 most influential women.

Zuriel In Mozambique

Zuriel talks with teachers and students in Mozambique (Zuriel Oduwole / Twitter)

Sahara Foundation is part of the Sahara Group, an international energy company. It has implemented over 150 programmes and initiatives across Africa, reaching more than two million beneficiaries in education, youth empowerment, health and other areas. 

The foundation sits on the Private Sector Advisory Group of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals Fund. Zuriel was welcomed at a presentation in Accra, Ghana, by Seyi Ojurongbe, Manager of the Sahara Foundation. 

He said: “Empowering the youth, especially the girl child, is a goal that Sahara Group supports passionately and we have consistently implemented several educational and capacity building projects to enhance the achievement of this goal in Africa.”

In Ghana, Zuriel also met the country’s President Akufo Addo. He thanked her for initiatives that have begun to make a tangible impact on the lives of underprivileged children.

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