International Day of the Girl Child 2019
The theme for 2019 Girl-Child Day is 'GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable'. The Platform for Action specifically calls on the global community to:
- Eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls.
- Eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls.
- Promote and protect the rights of girls and increase awareness of their needs and potential.
- Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training.
- Eliminate discrimination against girls in health and nutrition.
- Eliminate the economic exploitation of child labor and protect young girls at work.
- Eradicate violence against girls.
- Promote girls’ awareness of and participation in social, economic and political life.
- Strengthen the role of the family in improving the status of girls.
Today is the International Day of the Girl Child and according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), about 25 years ago, some thirty thousand women and men from nearly two hundred countries arrived in Beijing, China for the 4th World Conference, all of them determined to recognize the rights of women and girls as human rights.
UNICEF Evaluation Expert, Maureen Okolo reveals that North-East has 53.3 percent and retains the highest number of girls who are out of school, while South-East has 46.2 percent. That area has the lowest number of girls out of school in Nigeria. Even in urban areas, there are 52 percent who are of school age but are out of school.
While responding on Morning Crossfire, Barrister Taiwo Akinlami says it is sad that Nigeria is dealing with these things. “For me, this is not a day of celebration but a day of sober reflection. We should be asking if the government is taking up its own responsibility. Education rights, healthcare, and participation is big challenge for the Nigerian girl-child who is at this time endangered.
“We have this faulty belief that sex means superiority or inferiority. So those who have girls believe that they don’t have children yet, simply because they have no boys. Even Nigerians who live in the United States are affected by this belief system.”
Rotimi Sankore says ladies should not be pushed around anyhow. “Girls and women are not commodities,” he says. They’re human beings with full human rights just like men. Once that issue is established by states then the issue of protection will kick in. The biggest obstacle that has very bad impact on a girl is the issue of forced marriage.”
Responders on the streets of Lagos have the belief that girls can do well as boys can. A respondent, a female, said girls are performing better than boys in school. Another responder, a man said that any of the two (boy and girl) are gifts from God and they must be cherished. Another responder says that girls should be pampered and be excluded from heavy-duty jobs, while men are or boys are allowed to lift heavy things, girls should be made to take the lighter tasks.
Females in Nigeria face a lot of discriminations and denials such genital mutilation, forced marriage, gender-based violence, lack of education, and they may also face inequality, girls’ rights to enter places of worship during menstruation. But Nigeria needs more girls to later become doctors, as Rotimi points out.
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Guests in the Studio:
- Rotimi Sankore - Journalist, Policy and Development Expert.
- Barrister Taiwo Akinlami - Child's Right Advocate.
Morning Crossfire with Wemimo Adewuni (@wemimospot) & Sheriff Quadry (@SheriffQuadry), alongside Rotimi Sankore (@RotimiSankore)
By Jude Chukwuemeka