Huzaifa Jameel KofarMata is the CEO and founder of Girl’s Gate, a community based organisation empowering and promoting women’s voices in Kano State. He started his activism for removal of economic and societal barriers for women and youth when he was in junior secondary school.
The passion to see youth and women are empowered with relevant skills to navigate the societal vices distracting them to achieve their potential led the 23-year-old to establish a vocational training centre named Al-Ihsan.
With over 5,000 women, girls and students passing through the centre since its establishment in 2014, Huzaifa closed after the outbreak of COVID-19 due to lack of funds.
His resolve to impact his community was, however, not lost and rather occupied with the burning desire to shatter the cultural and societal encumbrances that have limited the chances of women to access equal opportunities.
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In 2022, he was opportune to be gender-based violence Champion by the Centre for Information, Technology, and Development (CITAD) and after the training he decided to open the Girls Gate Initiative.
“I founded the Girls Gate Initiative because I witnessed the stark gender inequalities and educational barriers faced by girls. I was deeply motivated by a desire for change, the need to address these inequalities, and a sense of personal responsibility to make a positive impact.”
His motivation stems from recognising the challenges and discrimination that women and girls face in various aspects of life, which he said ranges from education, employment, healthcare to poor representation in leadership roles.
He said witnessing these disparities and understanding their far-reaching implications drove me to take action.
“In northern Nigeria, women often face challenges like limited access to education, early marriages, healthcare disparities, economic limitations and gender-based violence. Girls Gate Initiative is addressing these issues by promoting education, advocating against child marriage, improving healthcare access, offering economic empowerment programs, conducting gender sensitisation, engaging with communities, creating support groups, and providing legal assistance. These efforts aim to empower women and girls in the North to overcome these challenges and lead more fulfilling lives.”
But the route to address these challenges according to him is not smooth with his advocacy facing a mix of positive and negative results.
“We received support from some community members who recognised the importance of our mission. However, cultural barriers, limited resources, skepticism, logistical issues, language barriers and sustainability concerns posed challenges.
“Overcoming these obstacles required community engagement, building trust, adaptability, and forming local partnerships to demonstrate the positive impact of our programs.”
To confront the challenges, he said his organisation is engaging in various programs like the “Most influential Women of the Month, She is the future conference, Pad4Her, SHE is the Future week, Girls4Climate and radio programs.”
He explained the radio program often focuses on gender-based violence (GBV) and girl child education in Kano State and has significantly raised and facilitated community dialogue, potentially influenced policy changes, empowered individuals and contributed to positive behavioral shifts.
“We also publish a list of the ‘Most Influential Women on Facebook’, which aims to celebrate and recognise women who make a positive impact. It promotes gender equality, inspires girls, fosters diversity, and encourages networking and collaboration among influential women. The goal is to amplify women’s voices and contributions in an era where social media can be a powerful tool for positive change.”
While stating that his long-term vision is to empower girls through education and equal opportunities, he added that he receives inspiration from the incredible women who have led and continue to lead the charge in the fight for gender equality.
“I am dedicated to following in their footsteps. My goal is to contribute to a world where every woman and girl can reach their full potential, free from discrimination and barriers. This commitment fuels my passion and drive to address issues related to women and girls through initiatives like Girls Gate Initiative.”
Currently waiting for admission into Bayero University, Kano, the NCE graduate of Biochemistry from the Sa’adatu Rimi College of Education said the initiative has reached over 10,000 individuals and over 5,000 lived impacted.