Addressing challenges confronting girl child

Not too long ago, the International Day of the Girl-child was marked in Nigeria with emphasis on eradicating all vestiges against their humanity. DENNIS ESANG reports.

The International Day of the Girl-Child, IDG was observed globally recenrly. This annual event is used as a global platform to advocate for the full rights of girl child especially in developing countries such as Nigeria. The day is used to create awareness that the girl-child is being relegated to the background in some quarters; hence, the need for urgent step to be taken so as to empower her through education and skills acquisition.

This has become important because of the popular aphorism that, ‘When you train a girl child, you have trained the nation’.

As the girl-child was celebrated all over the globe, stakeholders have called for gender equality policies for the girl child because factors such as underage marriage, lack of water and sanitation, insecurity, poverty, lack of sanitary materials, genital mutilation, among others are some of the bebilitating factors that mitigate their lives. Therefore, the girl needs equal opportunity.

Child advocates speak

The Rivers state chairman of the National Association of Women Journalists. NAWOJ, Mrs Susan Nwikhana Serekara, maintained that there is need for urgent intervention in the issues that affect the girls negatively.
To that extent, the girl-child should be confident and realize that she is valuable bearing in mind that cultural and other hindrances cannot stop them from achieving their goals in life. The girls should not sell themselves and government should ensure that the girls are protected in schools and wherever they find themselves. Girls are on their own advised to support each other.
Reports have it that low percentage of female children have access to Secondary School Education in Nigeria. Therefore, apart from urgibgs by parents, relevant authorities, NGOs especially the females folks should assist the girls in providing educational materials to enable them compete favourably with their peers wherever they find themselves..
Much more than this, stakeholders are of the views that equal opportunity for the girl child is important as it will serve to give them better pedestal like their male folks. In many negative instances, socio cultural practices have been hampering their performances. They therefore deserve quality education especially in the 21st century where to a large extent, corruption is said to be one of the problems affecting some of the provisions that should be for them. They are subjected to cruel practices in the name of religion and culture.


Nigeria adopted the resolution about gender in equality with optimism that the female child can bring change to the society.
According to Susan, “We are optimistic that the objectives will be realized where women and girls would not be joked at as weaker sex any more. Females should occupy the same space as their male counterpart. Adolescent girls should be empowered and allowed to put their minds on what they want to become in life. Parents should not put all their income on the boys but should share it between the girls and the boys. Since youths are leaders of tomorrow, girls too are involved. The responsibility of cleaning the house should not be for the girls alone while the boys go about playing. Discrimination between the two should not be encouraged. In certain quarters, girls are not allowed to eat certain food thereby denying them some required nutrients,” she said.

Speaking further, a female rights advocate, Sarah Abam said, “One day, the girl child of today would grow into-womanhood. We can say that the world has made tremendous impact in the lives of the girls. The world has been conscious about the lot of girls. They have been given some opportunities in terms of computer and they are doing well, but the stereotype still remains; however that can be removed as they are being looked down. If the women have to be allowed to explore life, then it starts from the girl.”
According to her, “When girls enroll into some male-dominated disciplines like Engineering and Surveying where you have greater number of boys, they are being seen as those who missed their ways. When a woman drives with little errors on the roads, you hear some comments like, ‘No wonder is a woman’. Soft and hard should go together.”
General counsel
It was the general opinion of many that as the world marked International Day of the Girl-child, parents, guardians and care-givers should know the whereabouts of their female children. This is important because very often and especially at this period of the year, there are stories that a girl has been kidnapped on her way to school, market or church. Parent should invest in the girl child so that they don’t get into prostitution.
Parents should also help the girls to achieve their dreams in life and not to discourage them in their chosen professions. Parents should not select careers for the girls. They can do well all professions provided there is a level playing ground because the days are gone when girls were impregnated by unknown persons thereby making them to drop out of schools.
It is therefore very important to give the girl child good upbringing that will make her useful in the society. Women teach and transfer good values to children.
According to Susan, “Women are groomers and trainers. When you give birth to a girl child, you have to train her well. Do not feel that when you finish training her, she will get married to another man which will make her change her name. The girl-child is faced with underage marriage, sexual abuse in work places and educational institutions. These have to be checked before it becomes late.

“The world will be a better place if girls and women are allowed to showcase their potentials when they are treated equally. The world can still go further. A lot are still hidden. If there is any time to restore the dignity of the girl-child, it is now.”

Culturally but erroneously, the girl child is not valued as the male child. It is believed that when a couple gives birth to a female child without males, there will tension in the family. For the man, some friends and relatives will advise him to go another wife. Sometimes, some women will be threatened for not having male children in the homes.

When it comes to sharing of father’s property, the discrimination comes in. There were instances even when some state governments passed laws that women should not partake in the share of the fathers property, some persons have refused to adhere to that. Some of the reasons according to them is that if certain portion of land is allocated to the women, they may not want to marry outside.puu
Therefore, as the world looked at the plight of the girl child, attention should be focused on what reduces their womanhood.

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