From where I stand: “Every girl has the potential to be who she wants to be in life if she knows her rights”

Sylvia Nansat Nwantu-Julde, 59, had been a teacher for 35 years when she heard about the Girls Empowerment and Mentoring Scheme (GEMS). She started a club to empower her students, which now has 50 members.

Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sylvia Nansat Nwantu-Julde, 59. Photo: UN Women/Safiya Akau
Sylvia Nansat Nwantu-Julde, 59. Photo: UN Women/Safiya Akau
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Young girls in this part of Nigeria are usually at the receiving end, with no knowledge of their rights and what they are able to achieve. Certain barriers like patriarchy, getting married at an early age, hold them back and deny them opportunities.

Every girl has the potential to be who she wants to be in life if she knows her rights.

I have been a teacher for 35 years. I have a passion for mentoring young girls so that they can have a better future. When I learnt about the Girls Empowerment and Mentoring Scheme (GEMS), I was excited. This initiative enables girls to understand their potential and helps them protect themselves from violence. Two of our female teachers were among those selected and trained to pioneer the first GEMS club in our school, and I also became a member. The club teaches girls about their rights and encourages them to aspire for better opportunities.

The club started with 40 girls in July 2017 and now we have 50 girls already. I have seen remarkable changes in the girls who are members. They are aspiring for professions that seemed possible for only a privileged few. They have learned to speak up for themselves and others.

Take Marvelous, for instance. At 14 years of age, she is the youngest in the club, but so committed that she also takes what she learns to her classmates so that they too can improve their lives. I tell you, mindsets are gradually changing here and the impact is evident."


SDG 5: Gender equality
SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Sylvia Nansat Nwantu-Julde, 59, is the Principal of Government Secondary School Mangu, Plateau State. She is a member of the Girls Empowerment and Mentoring Scheme, GEMS club, a mentoring group initiated by the Christian Women for Excellence and Empowerment, supported by UN Women as part of the European Union Funded Northern Nigeria Women, Peace and Security Programme. Nwantu-Julde’s work contributes to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, which promotes peaceful and inclusive societies, and SDG 5 on gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls The GEMS club in her school has received an award in recognition of its work and impact, which has encouraged other schools nearby to start their own GEMS clubs.