EIS students join debate at Zonta Club Conference

Mariam Chadare, Year 11

The 8th of November is the date that marked the birth of an important organization baptized Zonta. We were all assembled for a conference / debate, alongside another school, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Zonta Club.

The Zonta Club is an international service organization founded by Marian de Forest with a mission of advancing the status of women.  Its aim is to empower females through advocacy and service until they reach their full potential and tackle issues that women are subjected to daily by promoting awareness. Zonta Club has more than 30,000 members worldwide, including our teacher, Mrs. Genevieve Akinwumi.  It was first founded in Buffalo, New York, U.S.A., and later spread its wings around the world until it reached the Republic of Benin.

The celebrations began as we were all greeted by a musical band composed of men wearing pink dress shirts (a gesture to show their support) playing different melodies with their instruments. After that, we were given a welcoming speech by the president of the club in Benin, Rosita Prudencio Akuesson, who addressed the themes of the day. This was followed by a parade of the Zonta flag, the American flag and finally the Beninese flag, each flag accompanied by their respective anthems.

The themes that were to be uncovered were the perfect subjects to represent the values of the Zonta Club of Benin. These themes were:

- Education of girls in Benin

- Poverty and premature marriage

- Gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy

- Menstrual hygiene in school environment

Each topic was unfolded by different spokespersons specialized in the field. This gave us a broader perspective and understanding on how each issue affected us directly as young females living in a less economically developed country. I came to a conclusion that education played a big role in the problems underlined. In most cases, girls are visualized as a burden to their parents and are often prevented from attending school because they will soon be married off to another family at a young age.

At around noon, a debate was ignited by the board members. I had the chance to go against a female lawyer who thought that it was more appropriate to speak about menstruation only at home and not at school. However, I had another opinion in mind.

To put an ending to this hot day, we were all invited to have a drink in the mini restaurant under the conference room.

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