Female Education has a great role to play in Women’s empowerment and gender equality. This is because when you educate the girl, you equip her intellectually. You give her the tools necessary for survival in this modern world. This broadens her perspective and helps to empower her financially by creating opportunities for her. It also opens her up to a world of endless possibilities. Education liberates a woman mentally and makes her see herself as a person capable of making a difference in society. I am very passionate about women shattering societal constructs and breaking away from stereotypes. This is why I am greatly concerned about the girl child education. Recently, I was privileged to come across Aisha Abdullahi, a beautiful young female Medical Doctor from Nassarawa state. Aisha graduated as the Overall Best Graduating Student in her set. This is a great feat. It goes to shatter myths and show people that women are capable of incredible things. In this interview, we would be taking a sneak-peek into Aisha’s life. We would get to meet her, understand how life has been for her, and how she was able to read and accomplish this feat. We would also get to see what inspired her, her other interests, and how she hopes to impact other girls in Northern Nigeria with her success. I would suggest that you grab a bottle of chilled coke or any cold drink you like, sit tight and enjoy the ride:
- Can we meet you, please
I am Aisha Abdullahi Abaji, a medical doctor from Nasarawa state. I graduated from ABU Zaria in 2018. I have just finished my housemanship in Federal Medical Center Keffi and I am currently awaiting my NYSC.
- You are from which tribe?
I am Gwandara by tribe.
- How was it like growing up?
Growing up was fun. I grew up in Jos. I had quite a normal childhood: innocence, school, play, fairytales…… so many fond memories. I had all the support from my parents, I knew from an early age that there was nothing I couldn’t do or become if I wanted to. I went to some of the best schools in Jos with the rich kids though we were not rich. My parents always wanted the best education for us and they sacrificed a lot to make sure we had the best.
- What was your reading pattern like while you were in school?
I developed a good reading culture at a tender age. For academic purposes, I read at any time of the day but I am more of a morning person from around 5-6am. I was also a consistent person so I tried to read every day and from the very first day of resumption. I knew that I wasn’t someone that could spend so many long hours reading, so I made sure not to allow my workload pile. I was also not a last-minute reader/crasher. I also realized that it wasn’t just about reading but reading smart and that as a doctor you are not only reading to pass exams. I knew myself, what methods of reading worked for me and what I wanted so I never bothered by what or how much other people were reading. I am not a reading timetable kind of person, I am not very organized when it comes to reading. Reading is a hobby of mine, I read almost everything from medical books, novels, biographies, etc.
- How did you feel graduating as the best graduating student in your class?
I felt like anyone would feel when a dream comes true, I also felt humbled. I was overwhelmed by the response from everyone, I got a lot of well-wishes from people even strangers some on social media, some called. A woman called to tell me that all the mothers were proud of me. It was really wonderful.
- Did you ever envisage that you would finish as the best or were you intentional about working towards it?
Well! It was a dream and I worked towards achieving it, but whether it would come true was something I couldn’t be sure about until it did come to pass. In the beginning, I thought of medical school as difficult, all my classmates looked and sounded very intelligent with impossible JAMB scores, so I was really intimidated and doubtful of myself. Sometimes I would leave class after lectures, go to my room, and cry because everything was difficult and I didn’t think I would make it. At a point, I told myself that I was already in the system and thus far in my life, I had been an excellent student. So in looking for how to cope and survive, I started reading motivational books and I developed a relationship with God. Once I started believing in myself, I found that everything wasn’t as difficult I thought.
- How was your social life like?
It is not like I was this bookworm always reading and not doing anything else, though I am more of an introvert, comfortable with my own company. I did have friends, quite a number and we did hang out a lot until most of them graduated and left me in school (they were studying 4-year courses). I was not a fan of social media, although now it is kind of a necessity so using it can’t be helped. I also dated my classmate right from second year till the end, and we were almost always together and it wasn’t always about education.
- That’s interesting….. how did your fiancé feel when you as the best in the same class as his?
He was very excited, more excited than even me. He had always been very supportive, at the beginning of our relationship he used to tell me that he knows that I am very intelligent and that I would do excellently if I put in a little more effort. He has always been encouraging me to be the best, not only academically but in all other aspects of my life.
- How do you hope to impact young teenage girls in the northern part of Nigeria?
There are a lot of challenges that young girls face when it comes to education, empowerment, and career especially in the north because of culture. I hope to be able to change the mindset and orientation of teenage girls and their parents/guardians because girls are not intellectually inferior, they can achieve a lot too and nothing is stopping them from being whatever it is that they want to be. I hope to be a mentor and a role model to young girls, supporting them in whatever way I can.
- How is the reception of gender advocacy and women empowerment in the north?
Well, good to an extent but not as good as it should be. But it’s a gradual thing, with time we will get there. Someday, women will be sufficiently educated and empowered.
- What area of medicine would you love to specialize in?
Paediatrics, because children are innocent and they deserve the best doctors to take care of them.
- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I see myself as a mother to some wonderful kids.
A mentor to young children.
An advocate of maternal and child health.
And an employer of labour.
- What advice do you have for northern teenage girls out there?
That they shouldn’t limit themselves, they should reach for the sky and break barriers. That they shouldn’t look at themselves through the eyes of society. That they should always try to do their best in whatever they are doing because really, perseverance breeds success. Always be the best of yourself.
- What advice do you have for northern leaders and politicians when it comes to girl education and women empowerment.
There is a lot to be done when it comes to education and empowerment generally not only of females, look at all the children on the street. Female education and empowerment will actually help address some of the social issues we are facing. I hope that politicians, leaders, and stakeholders will put in more effort towards it.
You have heard it all from the amazing young Doctor. Nothing is as difficult as you think if you trust God, believe in yourself and put in the work. Hard work and Consistency pays. I hope that this interview has been an insightful one. There’s still a lot to be done as regards female education, especially in Northern Nigeria. I hope that as we continue to shed the spotlight on people who are shattering the stereotypes and living above the societal scripts, more people will be inspired to fund/encourage female education there.