On March 12th 2018, then 15 year old film maker and girl education advocate Zuriel Oduwole, presented the 5th edition of her annual DUSUSU [Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up] Award to the First Lady of Mozambique, Her Excellency Mrs. Isaura Nyusi. It was for her work advocating for girls education in her country.
‘I started the award in 2014, to recognize the work of First Ladies on the African continent in the area of girls education because their work is most times not celebrated or recognized, said the teenage girl from Los Angeles’. To date, the first ladies of Tanzania , Kenya , Namibia , Senegal  and Cape Verde  have received her annual prestigious award.
‘I think what made the award for 2018 different was we recognized for the first time a strong campaign against girl marriage by a first lady’ said the 15 year old, as she addressed the audience at the award ceremony, broadcast on Mozambique’s national television. The event was attended by government ministers and diplomats from several nations, in downtown Maputo.
Ironically, just in 2015, UNICEF had released a report, naming Mozambique as having one of the highest rates of girl marriage in the world. The DUSUSU award essentially showed how far the country had come, since the UNICEF report.
Before leaving Mozambique, Zuriel met with the country’s President – His Excellency Filipe Nyusi, where she pressed on the issue of girls education, so the girls in his country are free from societal and cultural vices of denied opportunities. Seventeen months after meeting Mozambique’s President and following her quiet and continuous lobbying and monitoring initiative with the country’s leadership, Mozambique’s parliament passed a new law on July 15th 2019, against girl marriage.
It is a victory not just for girls in the country, but a signal of a new hope across the entire Southern African region, where the future of girls become that much brighter, through the opportunity of an education, instead of an early marriage. Zuriel epitomizes the power of today’s youth voice, and the voice of an educated girl !!!