News Analysis

Empowering the Girl Child

Since 2012, October 11 has been dedicated as International Day of the Girl Child.

The day is aimed at promoting girls empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

The day also highlights the needs and challenges girls face with a view to addressing them.

The theme for this year’s observation “With Her: A Skilled Girl Force” is apt as more girls are being inspired to take charge of their own future.

Statistics by the United Nations show that one point one billion girls of today’s world are challenging the status quo.

Gone are the days when girls fold their hands and watch boys embark on innovative projects.

Girls today are venturing into fields previously dominated by men against all odds.

Across the world, girls face innumerable challenges to obtain education, training and enter into the work force.

Globally, this year alone it is estimated that twelve million girls under the age of eighteen will be married and twenty one million girls aged fifteen to nineteen years will become pregnant in developing regions.

Despite these challenges, they remain resolute and determined to succeed.

The female adult literacy rate in the country is put at over fifty nine percent in contrast to the male adult literacy rate of seventy-four percent, indicating that there is a gender dimension to educational attainment and development in Nigeria.

Over the years, significant improvement has been achieved in ensuring access to education such as construction of schools and provision of scholarship to cover enrollment fee.

Despite these, an estimated seventy-seven million children, fifty-five percent of who are girls are still denied any form of education in the country.

This begs for a review of strategies to include the creation of a conducive environment that would facilitate retention and success of girls in the school and in life.

The girl child needs to be empowered in order to be future leader, self-fulfilled and model to her community.

To this end, scholarship programmes aimed at bridging gender gap should be introduced to promote girls empowerment.

Since Nigeria’s future development, peace and prosperity are hinged on investing in the female child, empowering women and girls would help to strengthen some of the foundation stones for supporting women.

Government, traditional and religious leaders, private sector, civil society, development partners, women and men should device means to work together to improve the lives of girls and women in the country.

Since findings reveal that early marriage, female genital mutilation and taboos are some of the socio-cultural factors affecting Nigeria girl child, measures should be put in place to protect them from harm.

Furthermore, family and friends should give full support to the girl child to encourage and build a self-esteem that would propel them to greater heights.

Also, setting up vocational centres and girls club in schools will go a long way in helping the Nigeria girl child in reaching her full potential in life.

Most importantly, the federal government of Nigeria should make sure that all laws prohibiting malpractices against girl child and women are religiously implemented.

Empowering the female child is affirmative of the saying that training a girl child is tantamount to training a nation.

Anthonia Akanji

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