JOYCE ODUAH, FICMC CELEBRATES THE GIRL CHILD ON INTERNATIONAL GIRL CHILD DAY
The 11th of October, to me, is one of the most special days of every year because it is the day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate our daughters–The Girl Child.
As we celebrate, we must be mindful of the increasing vulnerabilities of the girl child in Nigeria and Africa especially with the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With most of our girls at home because of school closure, we have witnessed an increase in sexual and domestic violence against our girls, thereby, increasing the risk of death, grevious bodily harm, mental trauma, early pregnancy and child marriage.
The economic hardship in most families occasioned by the pandemic, especially in rural communities have led to the withdrawal of many of our girls from school; thus, exposing them to economic and sexual exploitation like street hawking, prostitution, online trafficking, etc.
To overcome these challenges, policies must be created and attitudes adopted to eliminate all forms of discrimination against the Girl Child including cultural practices and stereotypes that undermine her importance and relevance in society. Laws to protect our girls from all forms of physical or mental violence whether at home, school or work must be strengthened and strictly enforced. Steps must be taken to eliminate discriminatory practices which reduce the ability of our girls to access education, skills development and training.
As I join the United Nations to celebrate the Girl Child, I call for support from all stakeholders–the Nigerian government, private organizations, non-governmental organizations, teachers and parents–to uphold the promises made to the Girl Child in The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing 25 years ago.
All hands must be on deck to empower the Girl Child and promote gender equality to enable them reach their full potentials. We owe this not only to our daughters but also our grand daughters and great grand daughters.
Joyce Oduah, FICMC
General Secretary, NBA