HACEY Health Initiative and Access Bank have called on stakeholders in the private, public sectors to create an enabling environment for the development of the girl child to maximise their God-given potential.
Speaking at an event to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child organised by HACEY Health initiative with support from Access Bank Plc in Lagos, activist and Executive Director, Centre for Change, Dr. Josephine Okei Odumakin said the government had not done enough in addressing issues that concern girls.
The 2019 International Day of the Girl Child was themed ‘Empowering Girls for a Brighter Future’.
Speakers at the event spoke on the topic ‘GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable’.
“The government has not done enough in addressing the issues concerning the girls and ensuring more girls get into schools,” Odumakin said.
“These issues—nutrition, legal representation, medical care, protection from discrimination, violence against the girl child, child marriage, right to education/access to education are the challenges girls face all over the world.”
Odumankin explained that education leads to growth and if it is not taken seriously, it would impact negatively on the development of the nation.
“The girl child remains the lubricant for the survival of a great country called Nigeria, and that’s why we need more awareness, and we also need parents to change their mind-set, (about) early childbirth, early child marriages. Some of them don’t even know what reproductive rights is all about.
“The success or failure of the girl child resides in the community, parents and the government. Government has to be more responsive and responsible in creating an enabling environment in terms of security, in terms of making education free or less expensive, in also having a strong judiciary so that anyone that flouts the regulations will be brought to book as to serve as a deterrent,” she said.
Odumakin also said parents and guardians should know that they do not have any right to keep their wards out of school for them into trading their bodies.
She encouraged girls and women to be bold, confident, brave, and ensure that they acquire knowledge.
“For those who are not properly educated, this is the time for education to be made free, and parents should know that they have the chunk of the blame if they do give their young ones moral upbringing,” Odumakin said.
Rhoda Robinson, Executive director, HACEY Health initiative said the event was to celebrate girls who are the focus of the organisation to bring them together and recognise how powerful, strong, and unstoppable they can be.
“We’re calling people to invest in empowering girls, because when you empower girls, you’re empowering a nation. It has a multiplier effect, and this is one of the investments that we need to push across sectors tom ensure that everybody knows how important this is at the end of the day,” she said.
At the event, the organisers launched an initiative aimed at empowering girls in decisions-making and development ‘ForMeWithMe’ as well as Girl Talk Show, a TV show that gives girls the platform to speak up about issue relating to their well-being.
“Access bank strongly believes that investment in women and girls is an important key to achieving gender equality and promoting development. This is why as an organisation, we have dedicated resources and funding to our women banking and other initiatives directed primarily at empowering women and girls,” Mrs Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, Head Sustainability Access bank Plc noted.
Originally celebrated on October 11, the global event is a time when the pains, gains and future of the girl child are brought to the fore. The annual celebration highlights the issues concerning gender inequality against girls. The day aims to promote girl child rights and the importance of their empowerment.