The Country Director, IPAS Nigeria, Mrs Hauwa Shekarau, on Wednesday called for mandatory policies to prevent parents from giving out their children on early marriage.
Shekarau made the call while speaking at the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child in Abuja.
According to her, the parents who violated the policies should be made to face the rough of the law.
“The policy should be enforced at all levels of government and once they send their children to school, under no circumstances should they be pulled out from school or married off.
“Let the children grow and let them enjoy their childhood, girl education is a human rights and educating girls would contribute significantly to development of a viable nation,” Shekarau said.
She said girls and women suffered educational exclusion across the country, girls from the poorest families in rural areas of the North West and North East region were among the most at risk of ever attending school.
“Nigeria’s progress and national development will be constrained if women and girls continue to be disadvanteged and gender equity is ignored,’’ Shekarau said.
She said well educated girls were more likely to avoid early marriages, plan their pregnancies and have better maternal and child health outcomes.
Shekarau said more investment should be made in the girl child education for the development of a viable nation.
The Chairman of the occasion, Mrs Victoria Awolomo, said the Child Right Law in all states should be enforced in states yet to comply.
“Everyone must be ready to help his or her neighbours and expose the vices facing girl child in our society, some of which is teenage pregnancy for commercial purpose.
“This way the incidence of rape, child prostitution, early or forced marriage, child labour, lack of education and all forms of discrimination and exploitation will be stopped,” Awomolo said.
She said educating the girl child was the best form of weapon against all discrimination, exploitation and oppression.
The Abuja Coordinator of the association, Mrs Olanike Bakrin, said the purpose of the girl child day was for people and organisations to raise public awareness of the different types of discrimination and abuse that many girls around the world suffered from.
“Many community and political leaders talk to the public about the importance of girls’ right to equal education and their fundamental freedoms.
“Various events are held to showcase the work that people are doing to empower girls through active support and engagement with parents, families, and the wider community,’’ Bakrin said.