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SCI says girls most exploited, abused during crisis, pandemic

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COVID-19 Has Altered Brilliant Future Of Many Girls, Says Ama
Save the Children International, (SCI) Nigeria has said girls are the most vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and early marriage, especially during the time of crisis, pandemic or armed conflict.

Speaking on this year’s International Day of Girls, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Save the Children International, Nigeria, Amanuel Mamo, said: “Our campaign focuses on girls, because they are the most vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and early marriage, especially during the time of crisis, pandemic or armed conflict.”

Similarly, founder, Live Abundantly, Dr. Onyerinma Ama, said the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, no doubt, has altered the future of many girls in the country, and their hope of getting educated has forever been dampened.
 

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In a statement to commemorate the Girl-Child day, she regretted that a large percentage of the country’s girls have become full members of the marginalised 50 per cent people, who do 75 per cent unpaid work.

In a statement also, Mamo stated that in order to halt the negatives against girls, reason SCI launched a music clip to amplify the voices of girls.

“The music clip, we are launching today tells the story of millions of Nigerian girls who believe in their potential and dream to shoot like the stars, but seek favourable opportunities to live up to their own ambitions.”

The music video, titled, “Shooting Star” was performed by our Youth Ambassador, Maryam Ahmad; Girl Champion, Purity Oriaifo; and members of Child Rights Advocacy Club.

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Ama said: “Every year we globally mark the Girl-Child Day and promise to ensure girls within our communities would have a better life expectancy, the ability to live to their fullest potential with their rights to education, health, nutrition and employment honoured. We pledge that they will not experience any form of violence, discrimination and other denigrating forms of abuse.

“Then, we turn on the news or read an article and the same girls we have pledged to protect have fallen victim to violence, child marriage, child labour, human trafficking, conflict and we once again take the mantle and promise more shall be done to right the situation.”

Mamo noted that an attack on education is a war on children, particularly on girls, because a study conducted by SCI previously revealed that child marriage is both the cause and a result of poor education outcome in Nigeria.

“It is estimated that over 60 per cent of the 10.2 million out-of-school children are girls. The research confirms that the longer a girl stays in education, the more likely it is that she grows up healthy, secures a livelihood and has healthy and educated children of her own. Therefore, education is the smartest investment on girls.”

On his part, Ahmed, the Youth Ambassador, Save the Children International Nigeria, disclosed she wrote ‘Shooting Star’ because she wanted children to listen to the song and feel confident and empowered.

“It’s a song that emphasises the value of education in a child’s life and how they could reach their full potential when educated. The International Day of the Girl is the perfect day for this music to be heard because girls are mostly the ones being prevented from going to school.

“Some parents would rather invest in a boy child’s education rather than both, because they believe there is no use for a girl to be educated. This needs to stop because every child has the right to be educated and that gives them a chance to contribute meaningfully in their communities and country at large.”

Ama stressed that being a girl in today’s global society has become a casualty of circumstances, an after-thought, as families decide who should go to school, work, play, do housework or tend to younger siblings. 

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“The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the situation as many girls will never see the walls of a school let alone a school yard. Their brilliant futures have been forever altered, as they become full members of the marginalised 50 per cent who do 75 per cent of unpaid work.
 
“Being a girl results in a marked proportion of children falling victim to human trafficking, child labour, child marriage and all manner of indescribable forms of exploitation at a disproportionately higher level than their male counterparts. Their beautiful bodies are sold and wrecked before maturity by the cruelty of those who see them as no more than a commodity to be bought, sold and mutilated to suit their desires and economic benefit.”

Ama said being a girl is more than a footnote on a calendar, because it requires a mindset shift, which eliminates all forms of discrimination, violence, exploitation, harassment and negative cultural and religious practices.
 
“Being a girl is a commitment to ensuring nutrition, education, health and the ability to gain skills and training, which empower and leverage individual potential. Being a girl is a beautiful gift of strength, brilliance and joy, which families and communities should uphold and cherish.”

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