YOUTH AND AGENDA 2030: Reviewing the Works of CHIZURUM MICHAEL ANABARAONYE towards Achieving the (SDGs) - NewzEmpire


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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

YOUTH AND AGENDA 2030: Reviewing the Works of CHIZURUM MICHAEL ANABARAONYE towards Achieving the (SDGs)

YOUTH AND AGENDA 2030: Reviewing the Works of CHIZURUM MICHAEL ANABARAONYE towards Achieving the (SDGs)

Today, there are 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10-24—they are the largest generation of youth in history. Close to 90 per cent of them live in developing countries, where they make up a large proportion of the population. Their numbers are expected to grow—between 2015 and 2030 alone, about 1.9 billion young people are projected to turn 15 years old. Connected to each other like never before, young people want to and already contribute to the resilience of their communities, proposing innovative solutions, driving social progress and inspiring political change. They are also agents of change, mobilizing to advance the Sustainable Development Goals to improve the lives of people and the health of the planet.

Chizurum Anabaraonye, a young Nigerian, has distinguished himself as a change maker by leading change in his country and around the world towards achieving the sustainable development goals and empowering other people like himself to do same. Over the years, he has demonstrated excellent leadership and innovation towards the SDGs and engaging the younger generation to contribute towards achieving the SDGs.

With the Media
In today’s digital world, it is now more crucial (and more easy!) than ever to harness the power of media to reach a large audience and create change. 
Chizurum started using the media to reach a larger number of the society with his message. Before he was 18, he had already become a regular columnist for three major print catholic newspapers namely, The Guild Newspaper which is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara, The Leader Newspaper which is owned by the Archdiocese of Owerri, and The Sage Newspaper which is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe. His column is well known for its great ideas that inspire youth to drive change in their communities, and empowering the younger generation to challenge dominant narratives and social norms that seem to violate human rights. He is also contributes to so many blogs, including Medium. He is also the content creator for his organization, the Integrated Student and Youth Initiative. 

In 2017, the United Nations Population Fund and UNICEF recognised the work Chizurum does in Nigeria in using the media to drive change and mobilize young people to drive change. Through the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Program to End FGM, UNFPA selected Chizurum among 14 other young people from Africa and Europe to be part of the Building Bridge Project Between Africa and Europe to End FGM. 
The project/workshop was conducted by Italian AIDOS and Ugandan Media Women Association to train young leaders on the use of media to promote and advance the global campaign to end FGM in their countries. Since after the workshop in 2017, Chizurum has trained over 500 young people in using the media to drive social change, most of them were youth and students who members of his network across the country advancing the campaign to end FGM.

In 2018, with support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Moth selected Chizurum to be part of their community program which took place in Kenya where change makers are taught the skills and art of story-telling, and where he had the opportunity to share his story while growing up and faced with the shock of his sisters teenage pregnancy. Chizurum was selected to join this prestigious global community for his efforts in amplifying the voices of women, girls and youth.

The Global Campaign to End FGM
Chizurum founded the youth-led network, the Integrated Student and Youth Initiative (ISYI) to train and empower young people to contribute towards sustainable growth and development. Speaking about his motivation to establish ISYI which is now one of Nigeria’s premium youth-led organisations operating in both universities and communities where young people actively get involved to share ideas, learn, collaborate and network towards building the future of their societies and solve difficult social problems. The organisation has over 180 universities as members and over 34 youth members reaching millions of people across the country. 

In 2017, Chizurum became a member of the Youth Network to galvanise and amplify the voices of young people in the campaign to end FGM. He works mainly with young people across campuses and communities, training them on social change communication to communicate effectively to their parents, traditional and religious leaders the health implications of FGM. His advocacy and work to end FGM was centred on the believe that since FGM is a social norm that is passed down from parents to their offspring, engaging the youth is the best way to ensure that the cycle of violence is broken and does not bind on the next generation. Through social change communication, he trains youth to deliver messages that are locally relevant and culturally sensitive, which is vital in order to avoid backlash or driving the practice underground. This idea of his to tackle FGM has gathered momentum and taken on a life of its own. To advance his work with young people, he was awarded the end FGM grass root fund through his organisation, by The Girl Generation, the world’s largest collection of organisations working on ending FGM, with support from the Department of Foreign and International Development UK and Options Consultancy UK to raise three million youth to promote the abandonment of FGM in Nigeria. The project was implemented in four states and in four universities which was one of the success stories of The Girl Generation that reached over 200 million people in their Impact Report 2017.

In 2017, the United Nations Population Fund through the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Program keyed into Chizurum’s endFGM project to advance his impact in promoting the rights of women and girls, and awarded him a grant to sustain his project in four focal states with the highest rate of FGM prevalence. He collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to implement projects in six states across communities and universities, which was highly impactful and led to public declarations against FGM by various communities. 
Many factors come to mind that led to the success of Chizurum’s project in promoting the abandonment of FGM and other forms of violence against women and girls. They include,

It is youth-led: These young people reach tens of thousands of people through in-person initiatives, and yet more through media coverage, ensuring a more sustainable and powerful movement to drive forward the social and systemic changes required to end FGM. Also Chizurum m provides a platform for youth to collaborate and take up the issue as their own. 

Transforming communications: Chizurum believes that for FGM to end there should be a transformation in the way women are seen and valued in the society. The success of the campaign to promote gender equality and the global movement to end FGM rests on the foundation of this transformation. He is devoted to inspiring young activists and the media to transform the way they communicate to end FGM. Promoting a Do No Harm approach and sensitive, locally-led conversations about FGM, has led to more effective engagement in and ownership of the issue.

Amplifying stories: Capturing and amplifying positive stories of social change from some of the most remote and previously under-reported areas to a wider audience, sparking conversations and inspiring action to end FGM.
Young people are the heart and soul of the end FGM movement and Chizurum has strongly impacted these young people across the country to take the front lead. 

They are connected, questioning, increasingly vocal in some contexts, and spreading new ideas. They are the future parents and decision-makers within their communities – to influence them now makes gains for the future. Young people want to spend time and energy on social change – it is a new currency - and they will spread ideas, which they believe in. Importantly, young people have the power to inspire dramatic generational change within their communities, as future parents who have the potential to decide not to cut their children, as well as influence their whole community with their decision. Engaging them and putting a youth voice at the front and centre of the movement to end FGM now paves the way for extensive future change. 

According to Chizurum, FGM is a form of violence against women and girls, held in place by social norms. He takes a context-specific approach to social change communications, recognizing both the power of social influences and motivations, and the fact that FGM is an expression of gendered power dynamics. Through his work, we now see the sprouting of a generation eager to change the world.

Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality 
While the world has achieved progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment under the Millennium Development Goals (including equal access to primary education between girls and boys), women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world. It is no longer news that providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large. 

Implementing new legal frameworks regarding female equality in the workplace and the eradication of harmful practices targeted at women is crucial to ending the gender-based discrimination prevalent in many countries around the world. This tall ambition requires the contribution and participation of everyone on board, it requires collaboration and partnership.

Chizurum is one of the young leaders that have made giant contributions in promoting gender equality and defending the rights of women and girls in Nigeria and around the world. Apart from his works to end FGM and other violent traditional practices against women and girls, Chizurum has contributed greatly in empowering women and girls through his projects and using the media.

In 2017, Chizurum’s quest for gender equality and women’s empowerment was recognised at the global stage when his research on women’s empowerment for inclusive prosperity, which he adapted into an essay and submitted for the 2017 Drucker Challenge made it to top ten. Read his essay here .

One of the difficult challenges women will have to face in future due to the influence from science and technology is the changing nature of work and firm. It is no longer news that Artificial Intelligence will take away many jobs, and also create many jobs. However, the female working population would disproportionately affected due to the dominance by men in STEM disciplines. 

Chizurum has demonstrated strong commitment in empowering the younger generation with tech skills to meet the demands of the digital future in the face of Artificial Intelligence. 

Since 2018, when Chizurum was appointed the Chairman of Student Caretaker Committee of the University of Abuja, he has brought in over 20 tech companies and businesses who conducted workshops for students on ICT skills, prioritizing young girls. Recently, through his leadership at the university Google would soon start training 20,000 young leaders from the University of Abuja free, also prioritizing women, on tech and how to make money online. He has launched similar initiatives in the past with support from Trusts and Foundations who train young people especially young girls on the use of technology to solve problems. These young girls learn digital skills to thrive in the digital age, and many of them sign up on fiverr, a freelance platform where they make money by working for clients. He has also engaged businesses and entrepreneurs who come to the campus to teach students how to start a successful business. This initiative has enabled young people to launch their business ideas. 

Last year, Chizurum was appointed the Regional Director of Hult Prize Foundation, the world’s largest youth entrepreneurship hub. As the Regional Director of Hult Prize Foundation, he is part of an organizing team of the multi-national organisation leading, supporting and empowering over 200 000 young people around the world to contribute towards sustainable development with their great ideas. Through one of the organisation’s regionals which he leads, Chizurum participates in the selection of a youth startup idea that shows the greatest potential in providing 10,000 youth and solving the difficult problems it the society, which will receive its $1 million USD seed grant to execute their idea. Speaking about his idea, Chizuru sees himself using the opportunity to empower young people, both men and women, to change the world.

In 2018, Chizurum won the prestigious Drucker Challenge with his research human-machine relationship in the workplace which he adapted into an essay and submitted for the Drucker Challenge 2018. Instead of automation and outright displacement of underperforming workers by machines, he proposed training workers constantly on latest tech and a smooth working relationship where machines would be present to support human abilities. His idea was well received globally and he was awarded the prestigious prize and flown to Austria to join the world’s leading managers and entrepreneurs as they decide and discuss where the global economy is going.

Promoting financial inclusion to serve every woman irrespective of her level of education and background is another hallmark of chizurm’s works to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. Chizurum has also written extensively on this where he calls on the government and banking managers to make the bank opening account process simpler for women with low education or experience. He also speaks at different markets to encourage women to open account. Through this initiative, he has reached over fifty thousand women and helped them open bank accounts in their choice banks.

Girl Child Education
Women and girls in Nigeria have had various challenges in order to obtain equal education in all forms of formal education in Nigeria. In Nigeria, out 13.2 million out of school children, more 7 million are girls. Girl child education in Nigeria is not on a steady rise due to increasing rate of child marriage, cost of education, teenage pregnancy and some traditional beliefs that pins a woman’s destiny to the house under her husband. This places the development agenda at risk because without improved girl child education the society cannot grow and prosper.

Chizurum has written extensively on the need to promote girl child education and challenged beliefs and practices like child marriage and denying girls access to sexual and reproductive health products and services that tend to frustrate the global agenda to gender equality, which includes access to education by women and girls in the equal proportion with men and boys. On various occasions, he has spoken out advocating for increased funding for girl child education. He has also demonstrated great courage in promoting girl child education across several states in Nigeria, including areas dominated by the dreaded Fulani herdsmen. He goes from one village to the other speaking to parents and guardians to send their girls to schools. He also encourages young girls ad boys in school to be the change they want to see in their community by telling their parents to allow their sisters to come to school. His approach has reached over 700 parents and more than 1,655 girls have been returned to school.

To support education for the girl child, Chizurum gives out scholarships to young girls to attend school, especially girls from less privileged families. Apart from that, to fill up the gap created by lack of tech teachers and tech facilities on the schools, Chizurum conducts computer classes where girls learn the basics of computer and acquire tech skills. 

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