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Teen ‘unstoppable’ in fight for girl power in Africa


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With braces on her tooth and shoes on her ft, Zuriel Oduwole from Los Angeles might appear to be a standard American teenager.

But over the last six years, the willowy 15-year-old has been granted audiences with out a fewer than 24 presidents and high ministers on her campaign to advertise schooling for women in Africa.

Zuriel is following in the footsteps of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived being shot in the top to change into the arena’s most famed women’ schooling campaigner.

Born in america to folks of Nigerian and Mauritian starting place, Zuriel talks to African leaders “about making policies so that girls are able to go to school until at least the age of 18 so they don’t get married when they are 12 or 13,” she informed AFP in an interview.

Around 39 p.c of ladies in sub-Saharan Africa are married prior to the age of 18, and 12 p.c prior to their 15th birthday, UNICEF says.

Zuriel was once in Paris on the weekend to assist recommend for rich international locations to spice up their assist to creating international locations to zero.7 p.c of GDP. France’s assist finances is lately zero.38 p.c of GDP.

Addressing tens of 1000’s of youths at a cohesion live performance in Paris on Sunday, the younger American attempted to sensitise them to the consequences of poverty at the plight of ladies throughout Africa.

“Now I want you all to imagine your girl cousin… being married when she is 12 or 13 years old to a man who is 10 or even 20 years older than she is,” she mentioned.

“But guess what? Most of these problems are because of poverty.”

– Next yr, college –

Paradoxically, Zuriel, who’s the eldest of 4 kids, hasn’t ever attended college herself. Her oldsters started home-schooling their precocious kid when she was once 3.

At 9, she were given her first ruin of types as a campaigner when she sought — and bought — an interview with former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings for a documentary concerning the nation’s 1979 revolution.

In Ghana, she was once struck via the sight of youngsters looking to earn a greenback to assist out their households.

“I saw a lot of children, especially girls, out on the streets selling things, and I see that a lot whenever I visit other African countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania.”

At age 10, she turned into the youngest individual to be interviewed via Forbes mag and remaining month it named her one in every of Africa’s 100 maximum influential ladies.

And subsequent yr she’s going to start attending college on the soft age of 16, along with her attractions set on Harvard or UCLA, the place she needs to review economics and psychology.

Despite having a CV that screams wunderkind, Zuriel insists she leads the standard lifetime of a youngster.

“I play sports, I play football and basketball, I have friends I hang out with. I just happen to do all of these projects on the side.”

While in individual she turns out shy, the girl who takes to the degree in an African-style waxprint skirt and best is assured and articulate, whilst the use of language befitting of a youngster.

In many African international locations, boys have a tendency to be first in line when sources are scarce, she says, including: “And that’s not cool.”

– ‘I am unstoppable’ –

Zuriel’s ambition is aware of no bounds.

Citing Liberian chief Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first feminine president, as an inspiration, Zuriel mentioned she needs to change into president of the United States, despite the fact that she realises she has to attend 20 years to satisfy the age requirement.

In the intervening time, as she shouts in some of the 5 motion pictures she has made: “I am unstoppable!”

As neatly as successful awards, she additionally fingers them out, having arrange a basis in 2014 that recognises African first women for their paintings to advertise women’ schooling.

This yr the consideration went to Senegal’s first woman, Marieme Faye Sall.

Senegal is amongst few African international locations the place girls and boys attend number one college in equivalent numbers, however UNICEF notes that as the extent of schooling will increase women’ enrollment charges lower.


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