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WANEP expresses concern over girls’ ordeals

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The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding Nigeria (WANEP-Nigeria) has expressed deep concern over the ordeals of girls in Nigeria.

WANEP said early marriage, genital mutilation, education inequality, gender-based violence, low self-esteem, human trafficking, poor health and sanitation were some of the numerous challenges confronting girls in the country.

This was disclosed in a message by WANEP Board Chair, Ms. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, to commemorate the 2019 international Day of the Girl Child with the theme ‘GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable, marked on October 11.

According to the network, violent conflicts spread across communities in the North East, North Central and North West geopolitical zones also remain worrisome with their negative impact on girls.

WANEP noted that the Boko Haram terrorist group had continued to intensify attacks in the North East, within communities in the BAY (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe) states, using girls.

“Children, particularly girls, have been kidnapped, abused, used as machineries to convey weapons for the insurgents and as suicide bombers in densely-populated urban centres.

“Community early warning reports validated by media reports have recorded devastating impact of the use of girls as suicide bombers in the ongoing insurgency in Nigeria.

“Major highlights include June 17, 2019 detonation of explosives at a community football viewing centre in Konduga, Borno State by two girls and a boy, which left 30 people dead and 40 others injured.

This incident brings the number of children who have been used as human bombs to five since January 2019. In 2018, 48 children were used in suicide attacks with the number of girls placed at 38 within communities,” the statement read.

The group decried that the increasing number of out-of-school children in the country, which is threatening the achievement of the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 4).

It stressed that for girls to be unscripted and unstoppable, they need to break barriers posed by stereotypes, exclusion and conflict, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalised communities.

To protect and empower girls to become a stronger and more confident force in the future, WANEP recommended: “State and non-state actors should partner with women groups and women-focused civil society organisations in addressing the numerous problems that confront girls, to bridge the gap to their dreams.

“The security agencies should coordinate activities towards providing an integrated security framework that promotes civil-security relationship to adequately protect women and girls in conflict.

“Advocacy and consultations with relevant state actors to enhance the adoption of the 2003 Child Rights Act, which domesticates the principles enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Union Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Presently, 11 states in Northern Nigeria are yet to pass this law, including Borno and Yobe.”


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