A human rights violation, child marriage directly impacts girls’ education, health, psychologic well-being, and the health of their offspring. It increases the risk for depression, sexually transmitted infection, cervical cancer, malaria, obstetric fistulas, and maternal mortality. Their offspring are at an increased risk for premature birth and, subsequently, neonatal or infant death.
Activities commemorating this year’s International Day of the Girl Child ended today with the investiture of Mrs. Aisha Buhari the wife of the Nigerian President as the Grand Patron, High Level Women Advocates for Girls Education in Nigeria during an advocacy visit of fifty adolescent girls to her.
The wife of the President at the interactive session with the girls promised to advocate publicly for legislation against child marriage. She encouraged parents to keep their daughters in school for at least 12 years. “No single girl will be left behind in my movement to get every girl into school,’ promised.
Based on the theme: “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030,” UNICEF and other partners including the Federal Ministry of Education focused their activities on the transforming power of education to empower adolescent girls to overcome all challenges that affect their lives and inhibit their prospects of advancement.
The 2013 National Demographic Health Survey indicate that there are about 20 million adolescent girls in Nigeria and there is very low education rates among them especially those in the lowest wealth quintiles in the society. In Nigeria 60 per cent of the 10.5million children out of school are girls. Data indicate that among other factors one reason for low enrolment and retention of girls in schools especially in the north is the lack of female teachers in the rural areas.
In response to this UNICEF with funding from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and counterpart funding from five participating States started the Girls’ Education Project. The Girls’ Education Project Phase 3(GEP3) aims to achieve one million enrolment of girls into school by the end of the year 2020.
The project is currently running in five Northern States of Nigeria: Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara. Since implementation commenced in 2012, the project has contributed to the enrolment of additional 360,000 girls in primary schools in the five states.
“Adolescent girls should be empowered through deliberate policies to transform their lives and those around them. Young girls who are educated are better placed to improve their own and their children’s health and chances of survival, and boost their work prospects”, said Jean Gough UNICEF Representative in Nigeria
Investing in high quality girls’ education, prepare girls for life, jobs, and leadership. It directly translates into the girls being powerful and positive change agents of development.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on October 22, 2015.