It was joy overflow at the National Center for Women Development (NCWD), Abuja, as about 147 girls drawn from different states were trained on life skills and different empowerment classes, as part of event to mark the International Day of the Girl Child.
In some parts of the world, being a girl child automatically makes one vulnerable to denial of education, inequality, child marriage, sexual violence, exploitation and other negative vices, which ought not be so.
To this end, NCWD collaborated with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Federal Ministry of Education and other organisations to seek ways of how to improve the life of the girl child in developing countries like Nigeria.
NCWD Director-General, Mary Ekpere-Eta, noted that educating the girl-child position her, strongly, for a good future and a productive life. She said the 2019 event with the theme “Unscripted and Unstoppable -Empowering Girls for a Brighter Tomorrow” came at the right time, as the girls are not only ready to change their world but the whole world.
She Nigerian women through their many successes have proven that investing in the education of girls come with immeasurable gains. She said the United Nations Declaration of December 19, 2011, instituted the International Day of the Girl-Child, to bring to the fore, the challenges faced by female children, and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights:
“In today’s world, girls are pushing barriers and challenges that hitherto hindered their progress in life. I have seen girls breaking barriers that go beyond the capabilities of any person, fighting for inclusion in development from all fronts of life through girls movements such as the @GirlsForce and Girl4Girls in Nigeria to raise their voices to stop child marriage, promote self-esteem, girls education and for them to remain in school, learning life skills and standing for their rights to achieve their life dreams.
“There is still much to be desired as child marriage still exist in Nigeria. There are daily occurrences of gender based violence against the girl child, girls are still being used as sex slaves, they are still unable to complete their basic education due to insecurity and vulnerability of the family etc.
“Investing in girls education and ensuring they remain in school is still the best option, as it will enable them to reach their dreams and better their livelihood. In this rapidly changing world, any girls that miss out of foundational education and life skills will be more vulnerable in the future.”
Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, remarked that each additional year of education for a girl increases her chances of earning a good income by 12 per cent. Represented by an official of the ministry, Bukar Ajanigo, he maintained that economic development of a nation is dependent on the level of education of the girl child:
“Educated girls grow into mothers, and raise empowered children. They help families to escape the vicious circle of poverty.”
UNICEF Country Representative to Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, represented by Dr Anfreda Kisase, said the development partners are committed to assisting the government provide quality education for children.
Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, earlier mobilised friends, officials and other partners to the streets of Abuja, to sensitise Nigerians on the need to educate the girl child:
“Education is the only key that can unlock economic and social opportunities for millions of girls around the world.” She added that dividends of investment in girls education are immeasurable, both at the immediate and long term.
President International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Nigeria, Rhoda Tyden, said the girl child is the key to the development of every nation: “The girl child has the right to be educated because she is a mother, sister, daughter, wife so her role can never be overemphasised. Let us come together and remove all the setbacks distracting the girl child from actualising her potential.
“We are calling on all stakeholders, the government that the girl child should be given equal opportunity and empowered to fulfil her dreams.”
One of the students, Kemi Babalola, said she is very happy with the awareness campaign and with it more girls will be enrolled in the school especially in the rural areas. She pleaded with the Federal Government to put an end to the rampart cases of abuse, “as the girl child is no longer safe even in the hands of relatives.”