Replay
The Sound Kitchen
A star is born!
 
Listen Download Podcast
  • RFI English News flash 04h00 - 04h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 12/18 04h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 04h10 - 04h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 12/18 04h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 05h00 - 05h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 12/18 05h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 05h10 - 05h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 12/18 05h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h00 - 06h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 12/18 06h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h10 - 06h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 12/18 06h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h30 - 06h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 12/18 06h30 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h33 - 06h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 12/18 06h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h00 - 07h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 12/18 07h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h30 - 07h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 12/18 07h30 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 12/17 14h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h06 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 12/15 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 14h03 - 14h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 12/17 14h03 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h06 - 14h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 12/15 14h06 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h30 - 14h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 12/17 14h30 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h33 - 14h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 12/17 14h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 12/17 16h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h06 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 12/15 16h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h03 - 16h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 12/17 16h03 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h30 - 16h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 12/17 16h30 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h33 - 17h00 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 12/17 16h33 GMT
To take full advantage of multimedia content, you must have the Flash plugin installed in your browser. To connect, you need to enable cookies in your browser settings. For an optimal navigation, the RFI site is compatible with the following browsers: Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 10 and +, Safari 3+, Chrome 17 and + etc.
Afp

US teen 'unstoppable' in fight for girl power in Africa

By AFP
media Zuriel Oduwole, 15, in the footsteps of Malala Yousafzai, champions girls' education in Africa AFP

With braces on her teeth and sneakers on her feet, Zuriel Oduwole from Los Angeles may look like a typical American teen.

But over the past six years, the willowy 15-year-old has been granted audiences with no fewer than 24 presidents and prime ministers on her crusade to promote education for girls in Africa.

Zuriel is following in the footsteps of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived being shot in the head to become the world's most famous girls' education campaigner.

Born in the US to parents of Nigerian and Mauritian origin, Zuriel talks to African leaders "about making policies so that girls are able to go to school until at least the age of 18 so they don't get married when they are 12 or 13," she told AFP in an interview.

Around 39 percent of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before the age of 18, and 12 percent before their 15th birthday, UNICEF says.

Zuriel was in Paris at the weekend to help advocate for wealthy countries to boost their aid to developing countries to 0.7 percent of GDP. France's aid budget is currently 0.38 percent of GDP.

Addressing tens of thousands of youths at a solidarity concert in Paris on Sunday, the young American tried to sensitise them to the effects of poverty on the plight of girls across Africa.

"Now I want you all to imagine your girl cousin... being married when she is 12 or 13 years old to a man who is 10 or even 20 years older than she is," she said.

"But guess what? Most of these problems are because of poverty."

- Next year, university -

Paradoxically, Zuriel, who is the eldest of four children, has never attended school herself. Her parents began home-schooling their precocious child when she was three.

At nine, she got her first break of sorts as a campaigner when she sought -- and obtained -- an interview with former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings for a documentary about the country's 1979 revolution.

In Ghana, she was struck by the sight of children trying to earn a buck to help out their families.

"I saw a lot of children, especially girls, out on the streets selling things, and I see that a lot whenever I visit other African countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania."

At age 10, she became the youngest person to be interviewed by Forbes magazine and last month it named her one of Africa's 100 most influential women.

And next year she will begin attending university at the tender age of 16, with her sights set on Harvard or UCLA, where she wants to study economics and psychology.

Despite having a CV that screams wunderkind, Zuriel insists she leads the normal life of a teenager.

"I play sports, I play football and basketball, I have friends I hang out with. I just happen to do all of these projects on the side."

While in person she seems shy, the girl who takes to the stage in an African-style waxprint skirt and top is confident and articulate, while using language befitting of a teenager.

In many African countries, boys tend to be first in line when resources are scarce, she says, adding: "And that's not cool."

- 'I am unstoppable' -

Zuriel's ambition knows no bounds.

Citing Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female president, as an inspiration, Zuriel said she wants to become president of the United States, though she realises she has to wait 20 years to meet the age requirement.

In the meantime, as she shouts in one of the five films she has made: "I am unstoppable!"

As well as winning awards, she also hands them out, having set up a foundation in 2014 that recognises African first ladies for their work to promote girls' education.

This year the honour went to Senegal's first lady, Marieme Faye Sall.

Senegal is among few African countries where boys and girls attend primary school in equal numbers, but UNICEF notes that as the level of education increases girls' enrollment rates decrease.

 
Sorry but the period of time connection to the operation is exceeded.