Chisom Ogbummuo: Liberating The Girl-Child
Chisom Ogbummuo is the founder of The Conversation Café, a safe space where she addresses issues bothering on the girl-child, personal and societal development. The former UN Ambassador and film producer speaks to The Guardian Life on motivation, anomalies, and advocacy.
What is the most shocking realisation you have been met with as a Girl-child advocate?
I have met with a lot, all the things that I have heard about the girl-child when I was a lot younger and how we are expected to be seen and not heard and be domestic workers are still very relevant in today’s time.
Girls that are full of energy and have lots of potentials to do exploits in their environment are still being subjected to being labelled as just a gender that should be seen to do only domestic things.
In some of the communities especially in the rural communities, a lot of girls that I have worked with, are still being subjected to the ideologies that their lives revolve around getting married and giving birth. It is not a bad thing, but living all your life being dependent on that when you can be other things is still very shocking to me because I discovered that a lot of young girls do not know they can be a lot more than they are.
Another shocking realisation for me is that there are certain issues in some environs where we have girls that do not have access to certain privileges and amenities that can make them have better lives.
Has there been any point where you are frustrated and want to stop being an advocate for the girl-child?
There are moments where I have been frustrated but not at the point where I want to stop being a girl-child advocate. I hope there will be a time where I do not have to advocate for this type of issues again.
A girl has been beaten by her father because she had access to deodorants and he thinks she is doing all that to be promiscuous.
This has made me realise we are still living in the past and it frustrating. I wanted to arrest him but then, the law will not even have that, and these moments are frustrating for me.
Some cannot go to school because they are on their period; they have no access to sanitary pads, these things drive me crazy and that is the reason why I keep pushing to ensure each of these issues are addressed.
When it comes to financial obligations and dedication, how have you been able to handle this?
I will say quite frankly that it hasn’t been easy especially in the financial angle. When it comes to this, a lot of people are not interested, especially stakeholders and here is why; it is hard for them especially when it comes to issues of rape, period poverty, and co.
Most stakeholders are about their profits, they do their bit but everyone wants something in return. Sometimes, the only thing that should be in it for you should be the fact that you are creating value.
It is still a struggle, we are still on it, there are grants but before you get to that point, you must have had enough content. I have sacrificed a lot of finances on it. However, I am grateful to all our partners that have spent a lot and dedicated themselves to this course.
What projects do you have in view that will stand out and make a difference in a society like ours?
Honestly, I have quite a lot and all the project I have now will stand out. The recent film I released, “HER” is one of the important projects I have worked on. It addresses a lot of issues such as child molestation, period poverty, and child marriage.
These are things we need to start addressing and we need to start working on, we have to eradicate them as soon as possible, especially period poverty. Some girls cannot go to school nor do important things because they have to stay home during their period due to lack of sanitary towels and detergents. The “HER” project and Sanitary bank are important projects that will make a difference as a whole. We are working towards sustainability because we must be able to sustain these things,
What inspired you to shoot the film “HER”
The environment and things we have been addressing in the past are still valid; period poverty, child molestation, child abuse. I realised these issues are closer to me, I am motivated to address all this and ensure people know that we all have a role to play in creating a difference in society. “HER” is based on a real-life event.
Is there anyone you look up to that serves as a source of motivation?
Most at times, when I get this question, I want to be as sincere as possible. I learn from a lot of people. The girls who are like me, on the bridge, hawking, in classrooms, girls like me, who have visions and dreams are my biggest source of motivation.
Those hindered by some social issues such as being bullied because of their shape, size, colour, those who have been abused, those who have no access to social amenities, and despite all these, they are still pushing and dreaming, are my biggest motivations in doing the work I do.
Along with them are phenomenal women like Michelle Obama, Malala, Oprah Winfrey, Yara Shahidi, Nicole Asinugo, Frances Uchenna Igwilo, even my mentees, also my teachers who never gave up on me. They all beautifully inspire me.
N.B: There was a misinformation about Chisom Ogbummuo being a UN ambassador in the print version of this article. Kindly note that she is a former UN ambassador.