Zuriel Oduwole Presents her 2020 Annual First Lady DUSUSU Award

The year was 2014. The Republicans had just taken over control of the senate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had won elections in the worlds largest democracy – India, Oil prices has crashed from its high of over $100, the Rio Olympics had brought the world together, Scotland voted to stay as part of the UK, and Russia had annexed Crimea.

In between all these regional and global events, an 11 year old San Bernardino girl – Zuriel Oduwole, had just hatched a simple idea. As a girl education advocate fighting for the rights of girls in Africa to be ini school, she had at that time only spoken to a little over 3,500 youths across 5 African nations about the importance of an education, and had only met with a dozen world leaders including the Presidents of Liberia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Mauritius and Nigeria to do something about getting more out of school children into school.

But she believed more could be done. With the support of 5 volunteers to help gather some data, she began her annual DUSUSU Awards. The Awards, which stands for Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up, recognized the work of an African First Lady and an African Gender Minister, working tirelessly to improve the lot and livelihood of girls on the African continent, especially getting them into school.

That year in 2014, the first lady of Tanzania Her Excellency Salma Kikwete received the bespoke designed glass award, for her work through her WAMA Foundation. Since then, the first ladies of Kenya [2015], Namibia [2016], Senegal [2017], Mozambique [2018] and Cape Verde [2019], have all received this simple but far-reaching Award, in recognition.

For her powerful national ‘Hands Of Our Girls” campaign, aimed at ending the violence against teenage girls following the country’s 10-year civil war, where girls were seen as spoils of war, and for her work to end teen pregnancy, Zuriel has presented the 2020 edition of the DUSUSU Award to the first lady of Sierra Leone, Her Excellency Mrs Fatima Maada Bio. 

The search will now begin for the 8th recipient – in the 2021 edition, of the DUSUSU Award.

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