NAWOJ raises alarm over threats to education, health, welfare of Nigerian girls

A conference of the Nigerian Association of Women Journalist (NAWOJ), Zone B chapter, has said that education, health and general welfare of Nigerian girls were being threatened by incessant abductions and other security challenges in the country.

An end of conference communique on Friday, signed by its Vice President, Ayaba Omobola Akingbehin, and Secretary, Funmi Adekoya, noted that insecurity had compounded age-long barriers to formal education of the Nigerian girl-child.

NAWOJ said the barriers included, early and forced marriages, systemic gender biases and inadequate infrastructure, while noting that sexual harassment by teachers, cultism, economic constraints and a limiting culture had also stood against the formal education of girls.

The association noted that targeted attacks on schoolchildren, especially girls, which began on April 14, 2014, with the abduction of 276 children from Government Girls Secondary school, Chibok, Borno, by Boko Haram, had kept many girls out of school.

It warned that incessant abductions of schoolgirls might make them unprepared as tomorrow’s mothers and that this would impact negatively on the country’s future.

Accordingly, NAWOJ, therefore, made the following suggestions: that all tiers of governments should urgently keep all schools safe to stop attacks on the education of girls and boys and protect their future and that of the nation.

“Governments should also ensure the deployment of security agents in all schools, as well as fencing of all schools.

“Civil society organisations and all citizens of the country should support governments in protecting girl-child education.

“Traditional rulers should rise to the occasion by ensuring security in their communities and further promoting societal values, as well as reporting questionable characters to the appropriate authorities.

“There should be constitutional roles and allocations for traditional rulers, to enable them meet the security needs of their communities. When they are not empowered, it is a challenge”, it said.

The NAWOJ conference added: “Children’s right to education must be protected in spite of security challenges. Nigerian authorities need to live up to their commitments and double efforts to provide a safe learning environment for children.

“Creation of more awareness for the girl-child on dangers around her.

“Adequate implementation of the laws against attacks, including sexual violence against the girl-child, including  the adoption of traditional methods of punishing a child, such as abuse, shaming.

“Relatives of girls and other children should report abuse on them to appropriate quarters for possible prosecution”.

“Nigerians should deliberately eschew wickedness and embrace love and kindness as a strategy to promote national development” NAWOJ said. (NAN)