Professionals advocate self-esteem for young people

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By Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan

It is important for young ladies to love, believe in and trust in themselves. This leads to self-esteem as they take control of their lives and shine in all they do.

Those were some of the issues raised at the, “Who’s that Girl?” annual conference held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

The theme of the conference was: Star Girl.

The convener of the conference, Ronke Giwa Onafuwa, a broadcaster by profession explained that the conference aimed at inspiring young girls through speakers who can share with them, to nurture them to become phenomenal females.

“When I was younger, I struggled with identity issues, confidence and self-esteem. And so getting older and gaining confidence, I realised that there are a lot of young girls I could inspire and help to discover their identity and help with their self-esteem,” she said.

Onafuwa noted that the conference was themed “Star Girl” because she feels, “Every girl should know that she’s a star and should not be afraid to shine in her own way. Not everyone is going to shine in a loud way, some people can shine in a very demure manner, but still, own your light and let it shine bright.”

According to her, this year’s conference is not meant for girls alone, as boys are also invited.

We’ve had people say if you keep nurturing girls, what will happen to the boys? So there are speakers talking to the boys on boy issues, “Onafuwa added.

One of the speakers at the conference, Bidemi Zakariyau, a Public Relations practitioner said that it was important for girls to start thinking about what they want to become from a young age to take control of their lives and not limit themselves.

She added that, “to not limit yourself, you first need to have self-belief, you need to understand that you matter and you’re important…Understand that regardless of what your circumstances are, there’ll be no setback to what you want to become in life.”

Self-esteem is love of oneself and being self-assured as explained by Oyindamola Ige, a lawyer and school owner.

She said that to build self-esteem, “Young people mustn’t submit to peer pressure, they mustn’t submit to negative thinking, they must always think positively about themselves and be good to people. A lot of people who are nasty to others do so because they have no self-esteem.”

One of the factors that contribute to low self-esteem is abuse – physical, sexual, verbal, psychological, etc.

Ige stated that abuse could be recognised when there is withdrawal, anger and bullying, among other things, on the part of the child.

Another speaker at the conference, Adenike Adeniyi Babalola, an entrepreneur, who is a victim of sexual abuse said abuse could be prevented when everyone is at alert, always watching out for tell-tale signs of abuse and sensitising the young ones on sex education.

Speaking on her experience, Babalola stated that, “I think God gave me that story so that I can be part of the campaign and public enlightenment on sexual abuse… One of the reasons it has thrived this much is because we hardly talk about it and so the perpetrators get away with it.”

Part of the fallouts of low self-esteem is mental health problems such as depression, which is more common in women and girls than in men and boys.

This was made known by Dr. Jubril Abdulmalik, a Psychiatrist.

Dr. Abdulmalik revealed that, “Many things predispose them to developing things like depression and that includes things like self-esteem, body image and this is accentuated more now on social media, especially for teenagers who have fragile egos.”

He further said young people needed to focus on what they can do to help themselves and that includes, “acknowledging that human beings are unique in their ways; you can’t control how other people will treat you but you can control how you respond or allow its impact on you. In a nutshell, your emotional happiness or mental health is largely in your hands.”

Mercy Chukwudiebere