Founded in 2016, Cellule Nigérienne des Jeunes Filles Leaders (CNJFL), or “Nigerien Cell of Young Girls Leaders”, is a non-governmental organization that aims to empower girls and amplify their voices in the public sphere. The organization focuses on education, violence prevention, and leadership development. CNJFL organizes mentorship and education workshops, engages in advocacy efforts to promote girls’ rights, and holds a leadership camp for girls on a biannual basis. Through these efforts, CNJFL hopes to inspire girls to become leaders who drive transformative change in Niger.
Girls’ access to education remains a pressing challenge in Niger. Only 42 percent of girls are enrolled in basic education, and factors like the pandemic and ongoing conflict in the country have introduced additional barriers in recent years. Social norms also play a large role in the learning crisis as families often encourage or compel girls to leave school, marry young, and have children. Niger has the highest fertility and child marriage rates in the world: 76 percent of girls are married before the age of 18, and 45 percent are pregnant or have already had a child. CNJFL aims to tackle these challenges, recognizing the link between girls’ empowerment and a more prosperous future for Niger.
The Girls Opportunity Alliance Fund will support CNJFL’s mentorship program. The project will be implemented in Maradi, the region with the highest rate of child marriage in Niger. CNJFL will train girls to become peer mentors who will lead debates and lessons on violence prevention, child marriage, menstrual health, and the power of adolescent girls. Each peer mentor will be paired with an adult mentor who will help guide program participants to become young leaders who drive change. The program will support 30 girls, and it will also engage parents and local community members in advocacy efforts.
Girls have the potential to affect remarkable change if they are supported and nurtured. CNJFL believes in the power of Niger’s adolescent girls and seeks to empower these girls to reach their full potential as students, leaders, and advocates. Through its work, CNJFL is building the next generation of young leaders who will tackle Niger’s most pressing challenges, including gender discrimination, poverty, and violence. To learn more about CNJFL, please visit the organization’s Facebook page.