Imam Muazu Sidi once had slight regard for educating girls and upheld the practice of early marriage as commonly practiced in Rido Hausa community. In fact, he was on the verge of marrying off his 2 teenage daughters.
Then he got involved in the Collective Action for Adolescent Girls Initiative (CAAGI). The project aims to educate and empower girls, improve their health, and ensure their long-term wellbeing. Nonprofit organization, Gender Awareness Trust, based in Kaduna State, manages the project.
Separating faith from culture
The success of CAAGI depends on reaching respected faith leaders like Imam Muazu. The project provides training and a Faith Leaders Toolkit that helps them realize the serious health and psychological issues that girls may face when they quit school and marry early.
The toolkit contains scriptures from the Quran and Bible. These passages talk about issues of early marriage, education and economic empowerment for girls. This helps faith leaders separate cultural practices from what the scriptures actually say. And serves as a tool for advocating for AGs improved choices and opportunities.
Imam practices what he preaches
Muazu became so committed to the project that he now preaches about the virtues of empowering girls during his Friday sermons and when he counsels families. He also urges other faith leaders to join the campaign as a council member of the District Head on Islamic affairs.
Best of all, Muazu doesn’t just talk about the project. In a bid to match words with action, he has indefinitely deferred his daughters’ weddings.
Imam Muazu is just one of dozens of religious leaders in Kaduna who are helping to ensure that the girls in their care have brighter future ahead.