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Don, group harp on improved girl-child education to engender development

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Girl child PHOTOS: AP Photo/Sunday Alamba

Immediate past Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC), Prof. Joy Ezeilo, has said that Nigeria would remain underdeveloped if it failed to address the marginalisation, abuse, and exploitation of the girl-child.

Ezeilo said Nigerian girls are entitled to a life free from violence and discrimination, just as they deserve an equal opportunity for access to education, health, skills, and necessary investments to prepare them as future leaders.

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Speaking in Enugu on the sidelines of the 2020 International Day of the Girl Child, Ezeilo, a professor of law and founder, Women Aid Collective (WACOL), said the organisation had launched the Girl’s Will, an initiative designed to promote girls’ right to protection and participation.

She explained that the programme would amplify the voices and rights of girls in Nigeria, adding that importantly, the initiative would work to equip girls with the right skills and knowledge to defend their rights through targeted actions.

“It will target greater roles and participation of girls in decisions affecting their survival and development, advance their inclusion in science education and technology,” she said.

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Ezeilo, who is also the founder of Tamar SARC, stated that the Girl’s Will initiative was informed by the unacceptable situation of the girl-child in Nigeria and in the world.

“In Nigeria, it takes nine lives for girls to survive childhood. They face multiple and systemic violence, abuse, and neglect based on their gender as female children.

“They are victims of growing sexual abuse and exploitation, including human trafficking, abuse as domestic help, female genital cuttings, as well as early and forced marriages, among other harmful and discriminatory social norms,” she added.

Ezeilo, who spoke on the theme of this year’s commemoration, “My Voice, Our Equal Future,” disclosed that Girls Will would roll out its campaign to promote girls’ rights to survive and develop their full potentials without discrimination as from November 2020.

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SIMILARLY, Executive Director of Human Development Initiatives, Mrs. Olufunso Owasanoye, urged the Federal and state governments to increase their investment in gender-responsive public education and support all efforts to eliminate religious and cultural barriers.

She said besides strengthening existing institutions to protect girls from all forms of gender-based violence, she demanded implementation of the child rights policy to protect the rights of all females.

In a statement issued on activities to mark the International Day of the Girl Child, Owasanoye advocated provision of more helpline centres and equipping in-school counseling units to provide psychosocial counseling for girls.

She lamented that girls were still behind their male counterparts in key development indices, adding that in the World Bank’s literacy rate, adult females from 15 years and above in Nigeria were reported at 52.66 per cent in 2018 compared to 71.26 per cent for males of the same age.

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