The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has expanded the Adolescent Girl Initiative (AGI) to Sokoto and Bauchi States to keeps more girls in schools so that the key can harness their potentials.
Dr. Zubaida Abubakar, the National Programme Analyst, Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and HIV, UNFPA Nigeria, disclosed this during a media roundtable on the 2019 International Day of the Girl Child on Wednesday in Abuja.
Abubakar reiterated the commitment of UNFPA to support young girls to harness their potentials through the Adolescent Girls Initiative which has ended in Kaduna and Kebbi states.
She added that the agency has supported over 14,000 children to remain in school in Kebbi and Kaduna states under the initiative.
She disclosed that the agency would open a new programme in Bauchi and Sokoto states which are the two states with the lowest number of students at primary and secondary schools.
She said there was another United Nations initiative that will support more children enrolment in school especially in northern Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that AGI was an initiative where girls are enrolled from primary to secondary school and financially supported to stay in school and empowered beyond the classroom.
In addition, the girls are enrolled in the UNFPA safe spaces where they are supported with extra numeracy and literacy classes, vocational skills, reproductive and child health information.
The initiative is not to only empower them to better perform in school but also in their adult life and Initiative was piloted in 2013 and resulted in a delay in child marriage for the girls by 2.5 years.
Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, Dr. Ejike Orji, said the roundtable focused on the rights of the girl child as human rights, stressing that demographic crises fuels sexual and gender-based violence.
He said 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population was under the age of 30, this cohort is sexually active, they need food, love, and sex; if they don’t get it easily they take it by force.
He noted that the security agencies in the country were overwhelmed; stressing that every year `we add three million people on the national population and the resources are scarcely available”.
He, therefore, advised Nigerians to slow down the birth rate to enable the country to take care of its citizens adequately.
Orji said the violence was the outcome of demographic crises; a high rate of emigration, national harming nationals are major signs of demographic crises.
“The importance of this was to educate people on civility programme; we are not nice to each other, we must get back our country and ensure that the criminal justice system works.”
He urged parents to be friendlier with their children to build trust towards averting sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
Nigeria does not need more laws and policies because it has laws and policies all that is required was to move from talk to the action.
He said the government has done a lot to ensure that Nigeria has adequate laws, policies, and guidelines what was left was the lack of investment towards ensuring that the policies are working.
He, therefore, said the programme was to bring attention to the issues affecting the girl child to ensure that they have access to education, good and quality healthcare and protection against sexual violence.
He added that the programme also aimed at ensuring that girls received the choice of whom to marry and when to marry as well ensure that space was provided for her to open up whenever her rights were infringed.
He said Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in collaboration with the British Council and European Union support were conducting training for doctors and nurses on forensic medical examination and psycho-social support.