Worried about the vulnerability of the girl-child in urban slums, medical experts have called on the government, corporate organisations and well-meaning Nigerians to deliberately and consistently create safe space for girl children.
The call was made at a One- Day Sexual Reproductive Health Community Forum for Out –Of- School Girls in commemoration of the International Youth Day organised by United Nations Population Fund Youth Participatory Platform in collaboration with Lagos State Government in Lagos.
At the event, Medical Officer, Health, Agege Local Government Area, Dr Akintayo Adebayo, said Nigeria cannot afford not to empower the girl child if it wants to develop as a nation. “Adebayo: “We must deliberately and consistently create safe space for them to express themselves and explore the opportunities that are available. Youths are the investment for the future development or retrogression of a nation. Youths are the resource with an abundance of potentials for the development of not only this nation but the world and humanity. But unfortunately they are confused and they need direction. So as an adult we need to guide them.
Giving reasons why girls should be protected, the UNFPA Youth Participatory Platform Coordinator, Mrs. Elizabeth Williams noted that: “Young people become vulnerable especially when they don’t have access to information on sex and that is why we as an organization have a Centre here where people can have access to information and send it.
When a woman has information she is empowered. When a young girl is educated about her sexual reproductive system she has the large skills she needs like being certain to communicate and negotiate appropriately would be able to take full decision on their health even when they find themselves at risk they are able to get out of such problems as a result of necessary skills that they have.”
On the programme, she explained that about 200 of the girls were drawn from different wards in Agege Local Government Area, adding that the programme was divided into three sessions. The first section dwelled on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) where the girls were taught ways to prevent HIV transmission, and how to protect themselves.“
The second section was an interactive session where the girls were given a pep talk on core human value like honesty, loyalty, reliability, efficiency, commitment, equality, Respect, and equity and the third session was specifically on menstruation hygiene, how to maintain proper hygiene during menstruation.“
Also speaking, Dr. Adekemi Shomefun explained that the choice of Agege for the programme was because it is one of the most populated local governments with not many basic facilities.
Shomefun said the programme hopes to empower every participant with the right values.