As the World commemorates this year’s international day of the girl-child, Commissioner, Kaduna State Ministry of Health, Dr. Amina Mohammed-Baloni on Tuesday called on the government and other partners to consider girls first in development planning, especially their education, health and nutrition well-being.
In line with the United Nation’s General Assembly resolution 66/170 which declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl-Child in recognition of the girl-child’s rights and the unique challenges they face around the world, Accelerate Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) in partnership with the state government and other partners has organised series of programmes including road walk, press conference and inter school competitions to mark the day in Kaduna.
According to the commissioner, the key development challenges facing girls include discrimination in access to education, discrimination in access to food and nutrition, being used as burden bearers for household chores and farm work, early marriage and sexual abuse and other forms of gender-based violence.
“Each one of these challenges is a terrible menace on its own with the potential of bringing down society in all its ramifications.
“These challenges occur as a result of cultural, religious, political and social belief systems in our society, consequently, we must do all we can to curb them”, she said.
Speaking specifically on nutrition she said feeding the girls, especially the adolescent is a God-given right because “the girl-child is the most precious social asset of a society and any nation”.
She noted that under-nutrition affects adolescent girls’ ability to learn and work at maximum productivity, increases their risk of poor obstetric outcomes, arrests their healthy development and future children, affect their sexual maturation and growth and prevents the attainment of normal bone strength and the development of healthy teeth if they do not get enough calcium.
“Government and indeed all stakeholders must come together to address the issues to sustain the growth and development of our adolescents by ensuring that no one is left behind.
“I, therefore use this medium to call on all stakeholders to put the interest of our children and adolescents, especially the girl-child, in the forefront of development discourse and promotion of their overall health and nutrition well-being”, she appealed.