We Are Together: Fixing Cars and Women's Lives En Route
"My Nigeria is the giant of Africa," says Aguebor. "My Nigeria's women are strong women."
In honor of International Day of the Girl - Wait, what?! Just one lousy day?! - we salute the multiple global efforts underway (none involving talk of pussy) to improve female lives. They range from school campaigns to fight sexual assault and harassment, ever timely these days, to determinedly awareness-raising books and websites like A MIghty Girl, to the new Babies Act just signed by Obama mandating changing tables in men's bathrooms, to the celebration of Eleanor Roosevelt, a high-profile fighter for universal human rights and the new face of our $5 bills, on her birthday.
Mostly, we salute Sandra Aguebor, Nigeria's first self-described Lady Mechanic and gritty founder of that country's Lady Mechanic Initiative (LMI). In a country with bad roads and high unemployment, Aguebor began LMI 11 years ago as a way to empower young women with troubled pasts and few skills - former sex workers, high school dropouts, single mothers - and give them skills needed to live self-sufficient lives. Today, she has trained a network of over 700 female mechanics working in five states across Nigeria; there are hundreds more on waiting lists, and other countries have sought her out as a model for women's economic development. "We are together," proclaims Aguebor, a mechanic for over 30 years, "and we are fixing cars around the world."
“Skills change lives, transforming a life from nowhere to somewhere, giving hope to the hopeless girl. Now, she’s an entrepreneur. Now, she’s taking other girls off the street. Now she has dignity as a woman. Now she’s confident. Now she has a voice and a future.”