President’s wife pledges to champion public advocacy against child marriage
Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday pledged to lead public advocacy for the legislation against child marriage in the country.
This is contained in a statement issued by Mr Geoffery Njoku, the UNICEF Media and External Relations Officer, made available to newsmen in Abuja.
According to the statement, Buhari made the promise when 50 adolescent girls drawn from different schools in Bauchi, Zamfara, Katsina, Niger and Sokoto states as well as the Federal Capital Territory, paid her a courtesy visit.
It said: “No single girl will be left behind in my movement to get every girl into school.’’
The statement quoted Aisha as urging that “parents should endeavour to keep their daughters in school for at least 12 years”.
It said: “UNICEF and other partners are focusing their activities on the transformation power of education to equip adolescent girls to overcome all challenges that affect their lives and inhibit their prospects of advancement.”
The statement also observed that lack of female teachers in the rural areas was one of the challenges that had hindered girls’ enrolment and retention in schools.
It said that the UNICEF, in its intervention and support funds from partners, had started the Girls’ Education Project Phase 3 (GEP3) to ensure the enrolment of one million girls into school by the end of 2020.
The statement said that the project was currently running in Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara and had initially contributed to the enrolment of 360,000 girls in primary schools in those states.
In her comments, the statement quoted Ms Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, as saying that investment in adolescent girls’ education was a wise thing to do.
“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 lives and their children’s health and have chances of survival to boost their work prospects.
“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,” she said in the statement.
NAN reports that the 2013 National Demographic Health Survey indicated that there were about 20 million adolescent girls in Nigeria and with very low education rates.
Most of them were majorly present among very poor citizens, while 60 per cent of the 10.5 million children out of school in Nigeria were girls.