Frontline journalist and writer, Ms Adenerele Niyi, last Friday in Lagos unveiled her much-awaited book, There’s A Heaven For Bad Girls to challenge certain misnomers in the society that has encumbered the girl-child.
The book, a collection of five short stories, is the author’s debut in fiction. She told The Culture Newspaper that the book was inspired by ‘a family tragedy and also as an ode to ode to silenced voices and unseen faces’.
“The book is both a celebration of the power of youth culture and an amplification of the voices of young, vulnerable Nigerian women and girls” she started.
The book is the first part of a social impact project built on a trapezoid pillar completed by a podcast and a drama series from one of the stories in the book.
“Writing the book and releasing the book was the first phase of the social impact. The objective is to be able to use creative content to stimulate and spark conversations around social issues. How do social issues particularly affect the lives of young women and girls in Nigeria? The target audience is young women and girls.
“My advocacy as a storyteller is to lead us into alternate realities that are sometimes inspired by my overactive imagination and other times by very real-life people. By writing about the struggles of young women and girls, I’m hoping it shifts our perspectives enough to respect and value the experiences of young women and girls in Nigeria.
“I hope we create safe spaces where they can share their stories and build trust. By collaborating and building a supportive community, we can provide resources and environments that help young women and girls grow personally, boost their self-esteem, build healthy relationships, and overcome challenges.
“Ultimately, we aim to empower them to become active and engaged members of society in all aspects of life.
“The second phase is going to be a podcast series where young people will come and discuss their issues amongst themselves. From each different edition, we introduce experts and professionals who have the skill set and the potential and professional capacity to guide them and offer them positive pointers and serve as positive role models and mentors that they can look at and say, OK, you know what, if this person was once a young person and was able to achieve something with their lives, then maybe there is a chance for me as well to do better for myself.
“And then the final phase of this will be the drama series where we will use one of the stories in the book to create a drama series that will also speak about these issues that will then be entertaining at the same time” she ventured.
While delivering the welcome address at the Book Launch, Funke Baruwa, Program Officer, Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice Office, Ford Foundation, West Africa, bemoaned some societal misnomers that seem to have boxed the girl-child into a corner.
“As a girl child, you are already marginalized from birth as your arrival is not as celebrated as the arrival of a boy, but things are changing. But we still have a lot of work to do. For many women who break barriers for many women who try to do the right thing. And for many women who try not to fit into the box that society has earmarked for us, we’re called the bad girls. However, the times are changing.
“I always think that we are a product of societal misnomer since birth, when you have a boy as a baby people say it’s a bouncing baby boy. But when it’s a girl, it’s just a girl. And I can hear there are cultures where when it’s a boy, a cow or a goat is killed but when it’s a girl it’s a chicken.
“We also live in a country where we are challenged and we are bedevilled by different things happening around us. So, when you want to be the best of yourself, you have an economy that continues to pull you back. You have societal norms or social constructs and narratives that box you and then you have the struggles and the demons within yourself that you also have to deal with.
“How do you navigate that but then you have female? It’s like double jeopardy. Who is much more affected or impacted by the dictates of society, or the responsibilities or the social construct or the boxes that society continues to put us in, my remarks this morning is to say break those boxes. Let’s not even have a box in the first place” she disclosed.
The event also witnessed a panel session with the theme: “Women Supporting Women: Building Solidarity and Resilience”.
The session was moderated by Wana Udobang, Convener, The Comfort Food Network; and had Funke Baruwa, Program Officer, Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice Office, Ford Foundation, West Africa; Adeola Kingsley-James, Transformational Therapist and Founder, Owning My Greatness; Latasha Ngwube, Creative Director, AboutThatCurvyLife; Yemisi Adekunle, Social Advocate and Anwulika Onwudinjo, PR Analyst, AFEX.