December 1st 1955, little did Rosa Parks think that her assertiveness in not leaving her seat on the bus for a white man would lead to sparks in the fight against racism towards blacks and have such great results years later. To African girls and women, it was no longer a voice against racism but an empowerment to speak for oneself and others. Rosa took a bold step in standing firm in what she believed in, even though at that time, she lived amongst people who would have considered her rude and proud for speaking up against social injustice.Growing as a girl and into a woman now, I have always asked questions with regards to my contribution to the world around me. As a teenager even without access to the internet at that time, I had kept asking questions with regards to gender stereotypes, patriarchy, girl child education and so on. I had struggled with accepting some of these conditions as the norm, because deep within me, I could not just live with the knowledge that something did not sit right in how another human was being treated. Girls across Africa are still sometimes regarded with little or no respect and value. Words like:”You are just a girl””Don’t you know you’re a girl?””No wonder, it’s a woman driving”….and so on have reinforced the value and mindset people have towards girls.We are bound to see these and more. These causes need our collective attention and the choice whether to take action or turn a blind eye continues to nudge our hearts. I was glad I made the decision to follow my heart against all glaring odds especially as a believer who strongly believes that our dear heavenly Father has created every human equal in value in His image and likeness despite our differences.On the other hand, some have ventured into the murky waters of advocating for gender equity and equality. They have met with so much backlash that leaves the bone of contention and vies off into name calling, body shaming, abuses and so on. Well, there is always a price to pay for advocacy. Unfortunately, these push backs have shut their voices. Seeing a problem and doing something about it in your own little way is a responsible act. When you do this, you gain life skills such as confidence, oratory, writing and a life of fulfillment and impact. It is not enough to see these wrongs thrive in our communities, it is important that we lend our voices to the conversation as parents, guardians and girls.Rosa Parks was not the first female black person to make an individual assertive protest, however the odds fell on her singular act of ensuring her voice was heard. It is the seemingly small insignificant voices and actions that are significant in the long run. It causes a ripple effect not just in our immediate communities, but across the globe. As we celebrate International Day of the Girl Child 2020, we are reminded that unhealthy gender stereotypes is one of the social injustices that still plagues most of our communities especially in Africa. Over the years, Gender advocate warriors have been on the rise and more are joining the struggle. Results are unfolding however slowly, but we will keep at it.I do not need to underestimate the power of my voice towards this cause, neither should you. Our voices are potent and enough to bring about change. Do not ever think that your voice does not matter. It surely does. Our voices can be heard in several ways; writing, organizing conferences, grassroot advocacy, dialogues with government and so on. We can also leveraging digital tools and social platforms to spread the word towards having equal and fair societies. Your name may not be Rosa Parks, but you have what it takes to do what she did and much more.

Dear girl,

Your voice matters

Your voice is potent

Your voice is powerful

Your voice brings transformation.

We will keep speaking up like those before us have done and still doing so that posterity will smile on us.

Happy International Day of the Girl Child 2020.

Chineze Oluwasina