By Aaron Ossai
All forms of discrimination, violence and harmful cultural practices which stunt the development of the Girl Child must come to an end, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has said.
In a statement to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child, Dogara raised concerns about the discrepancy in literacy statistics for girls, and said all hands should be on deck in order to attain a future where there is equal opportunity and a better quality of life for Nigeria’s female population.
“It is disheartening that in this century, as a nation, we still grapple with actions and attitudes which are aimed at repressing and suppressing girls and women. It is high time we all acknowledged the reality that discrimination, violence and lack of equal opportunity have no place in civilised society and do all we could to ensure a better lease of life for our female population”,
The Speaker lamented that statistics from UNICEF and UNESCO show that 50% of all sexual assaults are targeted at girls below 16. Girls account for 80% of the 800,000 people trafficked annually. Two-thirds of the global illiterate population is female and 116 million women across developing countries have not completed primary education and argued that “these statistics forecast a gloomy future, and such negative trends must be arrested with genuine efforts made towards correcting the situation.”
“Harmful traditional practices such as genital mutilation must be discouraged and met with punitive measures in cases where they occur. The news is replete with stories of assaulted children and we must demonstrate that such acts of evil will not be condoned by applying stiff penalties.”
“In light of the many challenges faced by girls in Nigeria, it is important for more states to adopt the Child Rights Act. Where this has already been done, full implementation and enforcement are necessary.”
“As parents, we must protect our daughters and empower them by not denying them access to education. We must uplift them with words of encouragement and support, and assure them that their dreams and aspirations are attainable.”
“The girl child is of utmost importance to us at the House of Representatives. We have stayed the course in seeking the release of our beloved Chibok Girls, and all other matters relating to gender equity have consistently enjoyed our full support.”