According to the Women in Law and Development in Africa, over 2.5 billion women and girls around the world are affected by discriminatory laws. These discriminatory laws can range anywhere from restrictions on marriage, citizenship, and applying for jobs. Even today, men and women are held to different standards, which often hold women and girls back.
Jakomba Jabbie is a 16 year old gender equality activist who is an advocate for girls’ education. Jabbie has a strong passion for helping girls excel in fields where they are being underrepresented. “Education is important, especially to a girl. It allows you to develop confidence in yourself, showcase your talents, and speak for your rights. If we’re not educated, we will not know our rights and responsibilities,” Jabbie said.
Jabbie herself is interested in robotics and wants to be an aerospace engineer. To create a safe space for girls to learn, Jabbie formed a robotics club at her school. Jabbie did this because she wanted to “show the girls that we can also participate in the area of technology, to talk to them and to make it a space for all of us.” Jabbie wants to give girls an environment to be comfortable and be able to grow in. “I know a lot of girls are interested in science and technology. Our robotics club is not only for girls, but it’s encouraging more girls to join all kinds of science fields. Some girls think it’s too difficult, and they lose interest. But many girls have the talent, but their families and communities are not allowing them to show the world what they can do,” Jabbie said..
Jabbie went on to speak at a UN Women event titled,“Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030.” Here, she spoke about her own experiences of how laws affect women’s and girls’ lives. “Gender equality laws are important in supporting girls’ education as they ensure that girls attain the highest level of education and study subjects of their choice,” Jabbie said. “For example, a law which makes child marriage illegal would stop parents and communities from giving their girl children away in marriage… gender equality laws guarantee that girls who become pregnant while in school continue their education upon giving birth. This is because they prevent the practice of pregnant schoolgirls being expelled from school.” Meaning, because of certain gender equality laws not being implemented upon women and girls, they are being put at a disadvantage.
Jabbie plans to overturn these stereotypes and disadvantages being placed on women and be a voice for gender equality rights. Jabbie believes that education is of the utmost importance, and that women’s and girls’ lack of education is what is preventing them from reaching their full potential and engaging in certain jobs and careers. Young activists such as Jakoma Jabbie are one of many that push for gender equality laws in order to ensure a brighter future for women and girls around the globe.