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Saving the girl-child


Sir: Living in a very safe environment where there is no fear, our lives and property are secured is the wish of every individual. According to the late Nelson Mandela, “safety and security don’t just happen: they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.” That should be the utmost priority of every leader and government. In Nigeria, the girl child lives in fear of the unknown as she is faced with many challenges which includes: child trafficking, rape, gender discrimination, illiteracy, early marriage, prostitution, unwanted pregnancies, abduction, domestic violence among others.

The case of Chinwe, a 15-year-old single mum from Ozubulu in Anambra State who was given out in marriage to Izuchukwu Igwilo, a mentally unstable man, was a clear state of the Nigerian girl child. She was to become a sex slave to the groom’s brothers and bare bastards to bear his name. What a coded way of prostitution? Chinwe was lucky to have been rescued by a good Samaritan who posted her predicament on social media for the world to see and come to her rescue. Many of these young girls are unlucky as they end up dead or infected with deadly diseases in their quest for daily bread due to the level of poverty and lack of education.

Most countries in the world see education as a basic human need and in Nigeria also, education is a basic human right that has been recognised since the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Education is one of the fundamental rights of individuals. Unfortunately, so many young girls in most part of the world are deprived of this opportunity especially in Nigeria. The rate at which young girls drop out of school this few years is worrisome and calls for concern. The country’s inability to checkmate the devastating challenges of poverty, unemployment, gender inequality and insecurity is due to the poor state of its educational sector.

According to the Director-General of the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, NIEPA, Prof. Lilian Salami posits that, one third of all girls are out of school in Nigeria, amounting to over 5.5 million school age girls not in school. The North is the worst hit as it has the highest number of female school drop outs. UNICEF launched the G4G Initiative programme in September 2017 to help support girls to remain in school and improve their learning abilities. Regrettably, the government investment in education is still low, despite the significant impact of both national and international intervention in the sector to forestall this menace.

To this end, I implore the government to save the Nigerian girl child by providing free education for them because education bestows on women a disposition for a lifelong acquisition of knowledge, values, standards, attitudes, competence and skills. Let’s say no to illiteracy, no to early child marriage, no to prostitution, no to poverty, no to gender inequality and no to anything that has held us down as women. The young girls should have the mentality of because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail no one will say she doesn’t have what it takes, they will say women don’t have what it takes. Thus, the time for saving the Nigerian girl child is now.
Deborah Phillips wrote from Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano.

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Deborah Phillips
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