As the world marks the International Day for Girl-Child, a pro-women’s rights organization has called for more voices to be given to the girl-child through breaking of silence on societal stereotypes attached to the female gender.

Speaking with WHISTLER correspondent in Owerri, Monday, Ogechi Ikeh, Executive Director, Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) called for the discouragement of the culture of silence in ‘our society, where the voice of the girl-child is subdued, leaving her voiceless, powerless, helpless and almost useless in the face of all sorts of violence and abuse’.

According to Ikeh, “We recognize the fact that a young girl’s voice is powerful and very important, and plays a very vital role in determining her future, which is our equal future. Our society is patriarchal, and the norms have relegated the young girls and women to the background, subjecting them to all forms of discrimination, sexual gender-based violence, physical abuse, economic violence, psychological abuse and social deformation.

“With a very poor and abysmal representation of women in decision-making positions in public offices, it has become imperative to encourage women and girls to amplify their voices and break the silence of culture to curb this menace called violence. We promote young girls’ participation in leadership and governance where decisions affecting their future are taken; ensuring that they have access to quality education; preserve their sexual reproductive health rights, and enable them with skills and entrepreneurship; as well as discourage trafficking.”

She added that the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA) ‘is the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing the rights of not only women but girls’, adding that, “Nearly 25 years later, the Platform for Action remains a powerful foundation for assessing progress on gender equality. It calls for a world where every girl and woman can realize all her rights, her full potentials, such as to live free from violence.”

She said some of the measures to safeguard the rights of women include, “Elimination of all forms of discrimination, negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls; promotion and protection of the rights of girls and increase awareness of their needs and potentials; elimination of discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training; avoiding discrimination against girls in health and nutrition, economic exploitation of child labour and protection of young girls at work; promotion of girls’ participation in social, economic and political life, and strengthening the role of the family in improving the status of girls.”

She called on all actors, stakeholders, and government agencies to promote the rights of the girl-child by ensuring that they live free from all forms of violence and discrimination.

Our correspondent reports that the International Day for Girl-Child is held every 11th October. This year’s celebration has as its theme, ‘My voice, our equal future’.

The Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) has urged state and non-state actors to ensure the protection of the girl child especially in the face of COVID-19.

CCIDESOR called on citizens to take a cue from  this year’s theme of the commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child. “Empowering Girls For a Brighter Tomorrow”, adding that there is need for other civil society organizations to add their strong voices to the protection of the girl child. ‘Giving a girl a secondary education is far better than getting her married to the richest man in the world, as being educated will help her enjoy better health, take care of herself and the children she will give birth to’.

CCIDESOR also stated that ‘education alone will not be enough for the Girl child to tackle the boundaries of tradition, stressing that parents should ensure that the Girls are taught to be strong enough to resist the evils of societal pressures under which they are often buckled’.
CCIDESOR pointed out that empowered educated Girls have healthier, better educated children and higher wages thereby helping to break the circle of poverty in society as well as strengthen economies.

CCIDESOR hinted that if the girl child is protected from sexual harassment, intimidation and violence, the society will be stable to develop other facets of human thrives.

As Nigeria marks her 60 years old as a Nation, there has been  remarkable milestone which is worthy to be celebrated.

Our dear country Nigeria  has been faced with many challenges starting with leadership and insecurity which Nigeria is plagued with even as we advance in age has worsened and people live in fear  of the unknown from herdsmen attack to terrorists and kidnappers scare etc.                                                                                                         According to statistics recently by the Nigeria security tracker, 25,794 were killed between 2015 and 2019 and more than 100,000 persons have been killed by Boko Haram while 1.9 million people have been displaced because of conflict and violence ; more than half of these people are children. Three quarter of those internally displaced found shelter with host communities who are among the World’s poorest people.

Furthermore, our indices of growth and development are on the decline, population growth is 3% while economic growth is at 2%, life expectancy rate is 55 year.

Electricity consumption is at a meager 3,500 to 4,000 MW. Currently Nigeria uses four different types of energy: natural gas, oil, hydro and coal. The energy sector is heavily dependent on petroleum as a method for electricity production which has slowed down the development of alternative forms of energy. Three out of the four above resources used for energy production in Nigeria are linked with increasing greenhouse gas emissions: coal, oil and natural gas, with coal emitting the worst of the three.  Nigeria needs to invest in sustainable resources because of the obvious signs that it will be strongly impacted by environmental change such as: desertification, droughts, flooding, and water shortages. The biggest blow to Nigeria would be the low-lying areas that contain many of their natural resources being flooded if ocean levels rise as predicted

Unemployment is rising with an all time high of 23.10% in 3rd quarter 2018. One in every two Nigerians in the country’s labor force is either unemployed or underemployed. With a labor force of 80.2 million, that means about 21.7 million Nigerians are unemployed, a figure that exceeds the population of 35 of Africa’s 54 countries. Among young Nigerians aged between 25 and 34, the largest bloc of the labor force, the unemployment rate currently stands even higher, at 30.7%.

The lack of entrepreneurship has led to lack of jobs in Africa’s largest economy and most populous country which has increased crime rate and this is unlikely to get better soon. The World Bank predicts Nigeria’s flailing economy is set for its worst recession in four decades as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to manifest. Nigeria has been badly hit by the near total shutdown of the global oil economy, given its dependence on the commodity as its biggest revenue source.

written by Agatha Alohan

Pictures of NASSP field monitoring