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NIGERIA: Health Education and Enrichment Program for Girls

Local Partner: Project for Human Development (PHD)
European Partner: Biomedical University—Rome, Italy

Year: 2010

BACKGROUND
In Africa, exposure to all diseases, but especially to infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, highly correlates with poor living conditions and lack of education about personal hygiene, disease prevention, risky behavior, etc. Nigeria has an epidemic of such diseases and soon it will be home to more people living with HIV than any other country in Africa. Those most affected are women and children. Due to various social customs, young Nigerian girls are especially vulnerable to risky conduct that leads to HIV/AIDS. Besides a health education strategy, an authentic social defense is also required to promote the holistic well-being of school-age girls.

IMPLEMENTATION
The Biomedical University of Rome takes care of educating the young women with appropriate scientific knowledge about personal health, the human body and sexuality.  The Harambee-funded program focused on strengthening character and building self-esteem in adolescent girls in 13 rural schools through specific extracurricular socio-cultural activities.

Nigerian girls

RESULTS: CULTURAL ENRICHMENT
By introducing the young women to positive role models such as African as well as internationally-recognized women leaders in History, Theater, the Arts, Fashion and Literature, the girls were empowered to discover their potential role on the world stage. By raising their cultural awareness of a world much larger than their immediate environment, this aspect of the program provided a deep-rooted strategy for a more complete emancipation of the African woman through cultural enrichment.

RESULTS: GIRLS WITH GREATER SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND GLOBAL AWARENESS
650 secondary-school girls participated in the program, which gave them not only greater self-knowledge, but also a broader world consciousness. They were encouraged to emulate the intelligence, imagination and overall awareness of human dignity which empower women the world over to understand the value of their minds, bodies and spirits. Instead of limiting itself to technical and scientific knowledge alone, this pro-active, holistic education pointed the girls toward a more intelligent and hopeful, personal and collective future.