…expresses hope of bright future
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As Nigeria joins the world to commemorate International Day of the Girl Child, a non-profit making organization, Global Rights, Nigeria, Friday, calls for free sanitary pads for indigent girls and adequate provision of water supply in schools.
The call was made by the Country Director, Global Rights Nigeria, Abiodun Baiyewu, in an interview with Vanguard on issues affecting girl-children and how they should be addressed.
October 11, 2012, was declared ‘International Day of the Girl Child’, which is to highlight and address the needs and challenges of the girl child. It aims at promoting empowerment and the fulfillment of the girl child’s human rights.
The theme for 2019 International Day of the Girl Child is, ‘Girl Force: Unscripted and Unstoppable’.
She said: “I would say that my hope for the girl-child is my plea to the government that if you will live by your constitution the future of the girl-child is bright. If the future of 50 per cent is bright then we are more assured that the future of Nigeria is bright. But as long as we continue to ignore the issues of the girl-child the more poverty is enhanced and the spate of violence as well.
“I do not advocate a special fund for the girl-child, all I want is we mainstream issues surrounding all children in Nigeria; male and female and particularly recognize the vulnerability of the girl-child in that dynamic.
“For example, you want to increase Value Added Tax, VAT, it is hard enough for a lot of girls to afford sanitary pads and he wants to increase VAT on sanitary pads. That in itself is a major disadvantage. So I am not advocating a special fund for them, I am saying sensible laws should help.
“I will say not just to government I will say to everyone the cost of sanitary pads should be highly subsidized and in the instances if they can be given for free. I do know that for a number of girls during their periods do not go to school.
“If they do not go to school for five days in a month which is a week and then the possibilities they will not do well in school, especially in courses that is built-in themselves like Mathematics and sciences then the girl-children will continue not to do very well in school, and if they do not well in school the human resource potential will reduce and they will get married to men and will become liabilities rather than assets to their families. So we need to think deeper to be a girl in Nigeria and how Nigeria protects her and ensures her welfare.
“Is one of the factors why a lot of girls are not in school and I will advocate that journalists actually interview girls and listen to why a lot of them are not in school, and is not just the sanitary pads, schools do not have running water and you tell a girl to go to school during her period, how is she going to cope for the day?
“So she stays at home. In a lot of instances, there are unspoken things in our communities, states and so a girl is not in school and you ask her she smiles and does explain to you. That is the reason why she is not in school for a week.”
Speaking on what Global Rights is doing to do to improve the situation of the girl-child in Nigeria, the Global Rights boss said, “We are doing a lot and done a lot. One of our projects is ‘Rape is a Crime’. We continue to point out that one out of four girls will be a victim of sexual violence before they turn 18 in Nigeria.
“Except we all stand as a society and our government stands as well then these issues will continue to pester in our society. We will continue to point out how policies and laws protect and impact girl-children as well. Then beyond Global Rights, we all have a responsibility as Nigerians and as a government to ensure that the girl-child is protected”, she added.