The Connected Development (CODE), an NGO with a mission to empower marginalised communities in Africa, has urged government at all levels to prioritise education, protection, and social justice for the girl-child.
The Chief Executive Officer of the group, Mr Hamzat Lawal, made the call in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, in commemoration of the 2023 International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the IDGC is annually celebrated on October 11 as a global platform to advocate for a full spectrum of girls’ rights.
The 2023 theme of the global commemoration is “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being.”
Lawal, an education champion of the Malala Fund, also called on social society organisations and individuals to partner relevant government agencies to promote the educational, protection, leadership, and general wellbeing of the girl-child.
According to him, prioritising girls’ education will ensure quality and safe environment for girls to learn, free from fear and violence.
He stressed the need for stakeholders to strengthen efforts toward protecting girls in conflict-affected areas, including support for their physical and psychological recovery.
He further called on stakeholders to encourage and support girls’ and women’s participation in leadership and decision-making roles to foster a more equitable society.
The chief executive further advocated policy changes that advance girls’ rights, gender equality and social justice.
He added that “on this International Day of the Girl-Child, let us pledge to invest in girls’ rights, recognising their inherent leadership potential and acknowledging that their wellbeing is intertwined with the well-being of our communities and nations.
“The theme for this year’s International Day for the Girl-Child — “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being” resonates deeply in our collective conscience.
“It is a poignant reminder of the challenges girls face, especially in regions like Nigeria, where their dreams are often threatened by the harsh realities of our world.
“Together, we can create a world where every girl’s dreams are nurtured, where her voice is heard, and where her future is filled with promises and opportunities.”
Prioritizing girls’ education will ensure a quality and safe environment for girls to learn, free from fear and violence.
He pointed out that recent incidents of kidnapping of girls from schools in the country were very disturbing.
He added that the heinous act not only violates the basic right to education but inflicts lasting emotional scars on the girls and their communities.
He said “as a member of the Malala Fund Education Champion Network, CODE reaffirms its commitment to championing the rights of girls and women.
“The plight of girls in Nigeria reflects broader challenges faced by girls worldwide, including gender-based violence, armed conflict and limited access to quality education.
“Girls are disproportionately affected by the impacts of conflict and crisis, facing heightened risks of abuse, exploitation and displacement.”
Lawal further noted the underrepresentation of women and girls in political leadership roles, describing the situation as stark reality.
He emphasised that women’s voices were essential in shaping policies that promote gender equality, justice, and social progress. “It is our collective responsibility to dismantle the barriers that hinder their participation and empowerment,” he said. (NAN)