OCTOBER 11 has come to be regarded as the International Day of the Girl child by the United Nations. The girl child problem which has become phenomenal, has of late, arrested global concern.
WOMEN, from time immemorial have complained restlessly, living in oppressive world of man. The girl child challenges, could be described further, as even more precarious than the former. In less developing societies, infested with illiteracy, poverty, worsened by misconceptions of religious and traditional practices that impinged on the girl child rights and opportunities in life, have further made the situation nasty.
IN Nigeria, like most of African countries, the peculiarity of the girl child is apparently ominous: The girl child is victim of early marriage, female circumcision, rape, illiteracy, poverty, work load at home etc. The low literacy rate among the female population, gender discrimination both at community and schools; and particularly forced early marriage, leaves the girl child with little or no room or opportunities for education; and the consequences of this is a vicious cycle that never ends.
IT has been observed that an educated woman has skills, information and self-confidence. Girls education is a strategic development priority; better educated women leave healthier and happier life; they make better parent, worker, and citizen. Precisely, female education may be the basis of sound economic and social development; it produces mothers who in turn educate their children, and care for families, as well as provide children with adequate nutrition, said Dr Robert Limlim, of UNICEF. In short it is the backbone of advanced societies.
IN this regard, to help the Nigerian child realize her full potentials, can only be through education. The saying, train a boy, you trained an individual, but train the girl, you trained a nation, is very apt. Reason being, the woman easily replicates her education in raising her children. And for this to become a reality, schools must be available and within the reach of every girl child; girls must also be kept in schools that are safe, at least given the Chibok girls’ saga; teachers should be trained to be gender aware; the communities, government and all stakeholders must be on the watch out against such factors that contribute to keeping the girl child out of school and to deal with such appropriately, including religious misconceptions and traditions inimical to the girl child’s education prospects.
PMB was equally quoted recently during the observance of the girl child day, advocating for stringent laws to be made against rapists. This, no doubt is one of the ways to handle the evils prevailing against the girl child. Such a bill if enacted may go a long way to protect the girl child.
PARENTS should also be encouraged to send their daughters to school and should not cover up in the event of child abuse. Government, NGOs and public spirited individuals should contribute in the provision of better healthcare for girls as well as offering opportunities for female school dropouts.
THE Nigerian government, in league with the media and the society must enlighten the citizenship of the inevitability for a paradigm shift, the need to change Nigerians’ mentality, especially from traditional view of women’s role and gender equality.