“Hopefully women like me will change the world for our children”. Meet Ladi Dariya – a young lady who’s dream it was to receive an education. This is Ladi’s story.
I was funded through secondary school through the Commonwealth Girls Education Fund because in my community women were a waste of space. So if you were a woman you had no other value other than getting married. And you were married off at the age of 9.. 10.. to someone who was is your fathers age or older and you are his third or fourth wife and simply had no say.
But I wanted an education.
My father died when I was really young. My job was to goat-herd for my uncle. We were shared out because when you your father dies you are apart of his estate so the women – my father had 3 wives and 13 children – we were shared out as a part of inheritance for his siblings.
I went to live with my uncle and my job was to herd his goats. And I was really crap at it!! I was very rubbish at herding goats because that wasn’t where my heart was. I wanted to go to school but I couldn’t. So what I did was herded the goats toward the school house and then I would leave them and go under the mango tree where everybody else was learning and I would just listen. The one thing that kept me going and made me very interested in education was when a teacher said that the alphabet was only 26 letters but with these 26 letters you can say every single thing on the planet. That there is no word you wouldn’t want to say that you can not use those 26 letters. Goodness me, I got really curious.
My uncle got really frustrated because the goats were destroying peoples crops, someone or another would be pulling my ear back home and he got really really sick of it. One of his wives said to him ‘just let her go to school. She might just get it out of her system after a few weeks. You never know’. But I never looked back. And I am so grateful to the Commonwealth Girls Education Fund who found me when I desperately needed support, when I desperately needed somebody to say to me that I am not a waste of space, that I actually have value, that I can be somebody.
I am so grateful to the Commonwealth Girls Education Fund who found me when I desperately needed support, when I desperately needed somebody to say to me that I am not a waste of space, that I actually have value, that I can be somebody.
The Commonwealth Girls Education Fund funded me through secondary education. But I didn’t want to stop so I went onto University; I funded this myself, got a first degree in economics and started working in reproductive health because I was so concerned about the health of women. But it was so bad, that in my community all the decisions are taken by men. There’s nothing wrong with that but the decisions were not made to protect the mothers or the daughters. I found it extremely frustrating so I said to myself ‘what else can I do to make money and help people?’. Talking to them doesn’t seem to do a lot. And bankers get paid a lot in Nigeria. So I said to myself ‘I’ll go into banking.
First thing my friends said was ‘that’s a man’s thing, you can’t do that’. And I said ‘is that a mans thing’ and they said ‘yes’ and I said ‘I’m in there… I’m definitely going there!’ So I went into banking.
I did a masters degree here in the UK and I decided working with my community and helping people to make the decisions to send girls to school was maybe not enough, that I had to physically and actively fund raise to also support other girls. And not just do that but talk to children and make them understand what the world looks like outside of their community. So I started a thousand girls, a thousand schools project.
I was fortunate enough to have 3 children. Let me paraphrase – 3 daughters!! By the third daughter I realized this is my role, this is me protecting or attempting to change the world for my daughters and their daughters after them. And I thank the Education Fund for giving me a voice.
To learn more about girls and women like Ladi or to get involved visit: Commonwealth Girls Education Fund