A group, Women and Children Development and Health Research Institute, WCDHRI, has urged the girl-child to break the barrier and take responsibilities that would reposition and reshape their future.
The Executive Director of WCDHRI, Dr Comfort Ade-Ojo made this call in Ado-Ekiti, on Wednesday, at a sensitisation seminar, in commemoration of the 2023 International Day of the Girl-Child.
The event was facilitated by WCDHRI in partnership with Maternal Child Specialists’ Clinics, Balm in Gilead Foundation for Sustainable Development (BIGIF), and supported by Ekiti State Ministries of Education, Health and Women Affairs.
Speaking at the workshop titled “Investing In Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership and Well-Being”, she noted that most married women have been conditioned from their tender age to imbibe the culture of silence, however argued that there was an urgent need for the younger ones to speak up and take decisions.
According to her, “We are in the digital age now, we see that most things that the boys are exposed to girls are not allowed to do it. Some years back to see a lady playing foot ball looked like a taboo, but now girls are now involved in stuffs like this, even though there are still some little restrictions, they have the right to choose what they want to do.
“Look at Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, if her parents had not allowed her to explore her world, she wouldn’t have been where she is today. The girl-child should be allowed to take decisions or be part of the decision taking of issues that affect their lives, they should be allowed to speak out.
“The idea of universal education should be propagated and Ekiti State has been effective in that aspect through the establishment of free education for all, when a lady is educated, she is likely to take better decisions in every way.
“There’s no mother that would be happy seeing her child eating left over food. We might not be able to do much with the adult but we can still re-orientate them, the upcoming ones, let’s give them the appropriate information both the boys and the girls, when they have this information, they would know how to tackle these things.”
Speaking on limitations highlighted for the female gender, she admonished the girl-child not to limit themselves but to break the barriers in order to achieve their goals.
“The skill is just the starting point. All they just have to do is to come out of their shell, take responsibility for their lives and as for the parents, they should see Okonjo Iweala as a model to impact their children.
“We have some initiatives, like WCDHRI in collaboration with other NGOs to support and empower the girl-child. In fact the First Lady has a gender office centered on the girl-child.”
The chairman of WCDHRI, Dr Pius Ade-Ojo bemoaned the anti-social actions of the youths, such as cybercrime, possession and intake of illicit drugs, prostitution, among others.
He therefore called on the government and relevant stakeholders to join hands in ensuring that girl-child have better future.
On her part, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Social Development and Gender Empowerment, Peju Babafemi, represented by Tolude Oguniyi, stated that Ekiti State has been recognised as one of the best states with the highest number of girls in school.
He added that the State has been tackling gender-based-violence through the introduction of Gender based Violence Law and club in schools.
His words: “Ekiti State is one of the best states with the highest number of girls in school because the State Governor in conjunction with NGO’s and Stakeholders have come together to create awareness by making education readily available for the girl child.
“Also with introduction of the Gender-Based-Violence (GBV) clubs in schools, and the Ekiti State Gender-Based-Violence Law, 2011 have helped to combat gender violence.”
On her part, Chairperson, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Ekiti State, Fatima Bello tasked all stakeholders to champion the course of the girl-child and be involved in the fight for their rights.
She also assured that the association will not relent in ensuring that the rights of girl-child are protected at all cost.