Stakeholders urge school girls, women to break barriers to gender equality
• Early marriage, sexual harassment a drawback,says don
• Poverty, insecurity pose challenge to girls
Stakeholders have urged girls and women to continually seek knowledge by reading widely to break barriers that relegate them to the background in the society.They made the call at a one-day empowerment programme organised by the United States (US) Consulate General Lagos to mark the 2018 International Day of the Girl Child.
Speaking under the theme: “No Girl Left Behind,” they urged the participants comprising schoolgirls from underserved communities in Lagos to erase the gender inequality notion from their psyche.Among the pannelists were the Editor, Guardian Life Magazine, Chidera Muoka, Nigerian Film Director and Producer, Mildred Okwo, Nollywood actress, Mercy Johnson, Marketing and Communications professional, Collette Otusheso.
Others were Founder, Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre, Leyi Somolu Lesi, music artistes, Yinka Davies, Founder of Bella Naija blog, Uche Pedro and 2018 CNN Hero, Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin.The US Consulate Cultural Affairs Officer, Kevin Krapf, said there is the need to liberate and empower more women, as the world cannot progress, if more women are living in ignorance.
US Mission Country Consular Coordinator, Alice Seddon, urged the schoolgirls “not to allow families or culture to limit you. Don’t allow anybody tell you, you cannot do it because you are a girl.”
Also, Head of the Department of Foreign Languages at the University of Benin, Dr. Stella Omonigho canvassed girl-child education for the all round development of the society. Omonigho, who spoke to The Guardian in Benin City, lamented the challenges facing the girl child, who has a major role to play in the development of the society.
She said multifaceted issues, which include early marriage, lack of education, sexual harassment and child abuse, confront the girl child in Africa.She lamented that the girl child in Africa does not have a voice to demand for her fundamental human rights due to several unacceptable culture and traditional belief.
In another event organised by the Ovie Brume Foundation, stakeholders, including over 200 secondary school girls across eight schools, were mentored on how to create an impact and make the difference irrespective of the challenges or problems they may be facing. Executive Director of the foundation, Mrs. Adeola Awogbemi, said young girls in the country lacked conducive spaces to thrive and realize their full potentials.She blamed the menace on falling standards in education, poverty and insecurity.
Founder, Girls aide initiative, Dr. Abosede Lewu, who spoke on the theme, “A Skilled Girl Workforce” said negative gender stereotypes related to girls’ education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics begin as early as primary school, and have the devastating effect of making them doubt their own potential.
Also in Lagos, Pastor Bimbo Odukoya Foundation advocated a world where every woman and girl child is ot only safe, but empowered to make an impact in the society.A non-governmental organisation, Aids Health Foundation (AHF) rallied voices and engaged stakeholders to ensure that girls have right to education in safety and dignity.AHF Country Programme Director, Dr. Echey Ijezie, canvassed dialogue with girls about their rights, while and the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Iyang Asibong, lamented the high rate of teenage pregnancy, which stood at 17 per cent in the state.