20-Year-Old African Fighting For The Rights Of the Girl Child On Prestigious Award And Chasing Dreams  

Published 4 months ago
Adebola Aderibigbe; Photo courtesy University of Alabama
Adebola Aderibigbe; Photo courtesy University of Alabama

The 15th annual Realizing The Dream Legacy Banquet recognized three community members who embody the leadership style of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., including Nigeria’s Adebola Aderibigbe, an advocate for girl child rights.

At the 15th Realizing The Dream Legacy Banquet recently, Adebola Aderibigbe, a 20-year-old student from Nigeria, became the youngest and first African to be honored with the Horizon Award.

Aderibigbe was recognized alongside former Birmingham Mayor, Richard Arrington, Jr. and attorney and former United States (US) Senator, Doug Jones, who received the Mountaintop Award and the Call to Conscience Award, respectively.

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The recognition, given annually and in line with Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles, celebrates individuals who champion social justice, peace and equality.

Hailing from Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun state in Southwestern Nigeria, she embarked on her advocacy journey for the rights of the girl child at the age of 15, winning the International Day of the Girl Child Essay Contest organized by HACEY Health Initiative, a non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on improving the health and productivity of vulnerable and underserved populations in Africa, especially women and girls. Her winning essay, What Gender Equality Means To Me, marked the beginning of her journey, which led to an invitation to serve as a Girls Advisory Board member of the NGO where she has made both local and international appearances “educating people on why girls will always matter in the world today.”

When asked about the award, Aderibigbe shares her disbelief, telling FORBES AFRICA, “Honestly, it is still so hard to believe what happened the night of January 12th is real. Never in my life did I ever think I would someday be awarded something so prestigious. I feel honored to be recognized alongside notable dignitaries in the state.”

“Receiving this award reassures me of a statement I have always lived by – the ability to chase my dreams while changing the world around me. It has given me a greater sense of purpose knowing that there is still so much impact to be made regardless of where I find myself.”

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Being a second-year student at Stillman College, Alabama in the US, Aderibigbe also manages The House Tuscaloosa, volunteering to promote literacy in The West End Community. Her commitment extends globally, having served as a panelist at the With And For Girls Awards in London in the UK, and featured on the podcast interview segment of I.G. Advisors, a UK-based organization focused on strategy consultancy and specializing in social and environmental change.

Aderibigbe also runs the initiative Girls Matter Too and contributes as a volunteer member of The Legend Lifeskills Foundation, an NGO set up with the aim of equipping young people, especially girls, with skills for success in life and career.