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  • Blessing Oshoma, University of Port Harcourt

To #LetGirlsMap for socio-economic development and vulnerable communities response is sacrosanct!

The role of women is indispensable in any nation. As evident worldwide, any country that takes its time to develop its women can be sure of development in the true sense. This is because women constitute the most important resource of any nation. Women raise children that grow up to be custodians of the future, are naturally endowed with potential for efficiency and limitless acumen that could be deployed to diversify and catalyze development.

Blessing Oshoma and her friend Praise Omu during OSMGeoweek Mapathon 2017

As a Geography student, the map is our greatest tool. Maps are relevant to all walks of life. Maps have gone from what they used to be, drawn on large wooden boards to the digital format we have today. Being a mapper is an amazing opportunity to help make maps available to people everywhere. With the increasing demand and relevance of maps, our job is never done. With various platforms made available, mapping has gone from being an exclusively professional job to something anyone with serious interest can learn to do and it has become a lot more interesting.

The #LetGirlsMap campaign is one that has encouraged many girls on my campus to get involved in mapping. Most of our girls participate out of the excitement of knowing that this initiative was designed exclusively for Girls. During last year’s activities, through the Mentoring effort of our Team Coordinator/mentor Mr.Victor N.Sunday, the collaborative efforts of my Team Leader Chukwudubem Nzewi and our chapter's LetGirlsMap Director Baridapsi Nyiaghan, the LetGirlsMap wing of my chapter was established. Additionally, we creared WhatsApp chat group named ‘’LetGirlsMap’’ comprising about 55 participants including our Senior year friends and mentors like Nathalie from Uganda, Janet Chapman fromTanzania, Egle and others who from time to time share their experiences with us. We have students from different majors and programs, including PhD, MSc, and undergraduate girls. As common everywhere, men have often dominated the mapping profession but through the LetGirlsMap campaign, this has changed.

There is no doubt that there are still a lot of potentials to be tapped into as pertains to girls mapping in my campus. I am certain that there are still girls who would love to participate in mapping, especially when they find out how easy and fun it is and how it can help women everywhere. Moreso, for the fact, that maps speak best and geospatially about vulnerable women and girls globally. Maps are a powerful geospatial tool for addressing issues affecting women globally at local levels

Blessing Oshoma and her friend of LetGirlsMap wing of UniqueMappersTeam at the University of Port Harcournt, Nigeria

To increase the participation of more girls in mapping and also increase the LetGirlsMap wing of UniqueMappersTeam, we will need to carry out more campaigns, organize mapathon trainings and mapathons (exclusively for girls) especially in areas which are of concern to women such as hospitals, markets and schools. We can organize campaign rallies and seminars to educate the women and girls in our surrounding local communities on the importance of keeping their surroundings clean to minimize the prevalence of certain preventable diseases and infections as we map vulnerable women in our local communities. We would map hostels and lodges outside the school campus that are safe and conducive for female students to live in. We would also make printouts of updated OSM maps of the campuses and place them at strategic points in the female student living quarters. This would help to make planning lectures and venues easy and help new students find their way around. We would also campaign for the use of mobile apps such as Maps.Me, Map Swipe and others.

Blessing Oshoma and her Team members LetGirlsMap going for EMAN 2017

With adequate training, effective mentoring and support from YouthMappers and our fellow chapters in the network, I am optimistic that members of my chapter would be able to work favorably with members of other chapters. We would also love to collaborate with other chapters to increase our learning and world view.

#LetGirlsMap is an amazing part of YouthMappers and it’s really nice to be part of it. I look forward to working with great ladies and also collaborations with other teams. I know that certainly the year ahead holds more for us and so we must LetGirlsMap in our campus and beyond!

Oshoma Blessing, is the Pioneer Team Secretary General (TSG) of UniqueMappersTeam (UMT) Port Harcourt at the University of Port Harcourt. She is a 300 level student of Geography and Environmental Management. Blessing loves reading, listening to music, and cooking. She looks forward to her continued participation in the #LetGirlsMap initiative!

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