Zuriel Oduwole

Rachel Lewis Jan 31, 2021 · 2 mins read
Zuriel Oduwole
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In 2012, a nine-year-old girl named Zuriel Oduwole submitted a short documentary to a national filmmaking competition. A decade later, now an adult, Oduwole has been listed as an influential person by Forbes, Business Insider, the New African Magazine, ELLE, and the New York Times. She’s not a Gen Z social media influencer, but an activist for girls’ education and climate change awareness.

Oduwole’s curiosity about the history and culture of Africa led her to enter the National History Day documentary contest. She and her family visited Ghana in January 2012 so that she could learn more about its revolution and film scenes of its natural landscape and cultural landmarks. However, Oduwole’s research was not simply a series of museum visits and reading old newspapers — she managed to snag interviews with two of its former presidents. Oduwole has since released two more documentaries about the development of African countries that have been shown in theaters in multiple countries around the world, including Nigeria, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

Oduwole’s travels around the world to speak about the importance of education make it almost impossible for Oduwole herself to attend “normal” school. She and her siblings were enrolled in virtual school years before anyone knew of a microscopic virus called “COVID-19”. This online system worked well for Oduwole, enabling her to learn two grades ahead and reach her senior year of high school by the time she was 15.

Since 2017, Oduwole has focused on her advocacy for education for children around the world, especially young girls in Africa who don’t have the same opportunities as boys. She spoke to a crowd of 30,000 in Paris about the disparities between boys’ and girls’ opportunities for education in many African nations on Sep. 17. Two months later at COP23, a conference of world leaders negotiating a plan for international action on climate change, Oduwole gave a brief speech on the effects of climate change on schools in low-lying island countries like Fiji. Oduwole says that she aims to be an inspiration to young girls everywhere of what they can do with an education.


Photo courtesy of NativeMag.

Written by Rachel Lewis
Rachel (she/her) is the Spotlight Editor for We Need to Talk. She's 16 years old and attends high school on the East Coast of the United States. In her free time, Rachel loves to read, swim, listen to music, doodle, laugh with friends, and watch Netflix. After becoming passionate about journalism through her school, Rachel joined We Need to Talk to learn and share the stories of social justice activists and the issues they fight for.