Over 400 young people from across Africa gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April for a Pan-African Youth Forum. It was an unmissable opportunity to share ideas, debate issues and crucially, influence how the African Union (AU) invests in Africa’s youth.
At the Forum, we spoke to ONE Champion Chidinma Ibemere, 26 — a teacher and activist in Enugu, Nigeria. She’s determined to see a world where poor education, poor healthcare, gender inequality and unemployment are firmly in the past!
How did you become an activist?
I was born into a family of three girls. It was upsetting to hear people tell my parents to adopt a boy because the family had no future with just girls. This made me determined to prove them wrong.
What do your friends and family think of your activism?
I am surrounded by great friends who are also passionate about making the world a better place. At first, my family didn’t see the need for me to be involved with activism since it is almost impossible to change cultural norms, but my activism has begun to change things, convincing them to support my journey.
In 2017, I set-up Chidinma Ibemere Outreach Program (CHOP) which advocates for gender equality focusing on girls education. CHOP has successfully carried out 24 outreach activities in Nigeria impacting around 2000 girls and women in schools, prisons and camps for internally displaced people. I’ve also supported movements like #PovertyIsSexist, #MakeNaijaStronger, #HearMeToo, #BalanceForBetter, #PressForProgress.
How did you get involved with ONE?
I first heard about ONE in 2017 but became actively involved as a 2018 ONE Champion in Nigeria. ONE is committed to fighting against extreme poverty and fighting for gender equality which are the core values I stand for.
Why did you want to go to African Union (AU) Youth Forum?
It offered me the privilege of networking with great minds from across the continent. And also opened my mind to learn, unlearn and relearn ways to further improve access to education for girls through CHOP.
The AU aims to provide opportunities for at least 1 million young Africans by 2021 (#1Mby2021). What do you think?
I strongly believe that the ‘1 million by 2021’ initiative is a great idea because it is a platform to share ideas, suggest recommendations as well as provide strategic ways of implementing the Africa we want by the future of Africa (the youth).
Do you have a message for Aya Chebbi, the AU Youth Envoy?
I want to see progressive action taken now by the African Heads of State after this summit in order to achieve the AUC ‘1 million by 2021’ goal. So I ask Aya Chebbi to make sure that Heads of State are held accountable for implementing our final recommendations from the Youth Forum.