By Ebele Orakpo
The Morgan Smart Development Foundation joined girls the world over, particularly in the Niger-Delta to commemorate this year’s International Day of the Girl-Child with the theme: Girlforce: Unscripted And Unstoppable.
The event which took place at Morgan Smart Development Foundation Women and Youth Empowerment Resource Centre, Warri, Delta State, featured various activities such as lectures on Ills of Teenage Pregnancy, Sexual and Reproductive Health/ Empowering girls for a better tomorrow; essay writing/spelling bee competition, a display of The Platform of Action, nine indicators for girls by MSDF scholars, and distribution of sanitary pads.
The day was set aside by the United Nations to promote girls’ empowerment and fulfillment of their human rights, highlight the challenges faced by girls all over the world, celebrate the potentials of girls in the face of threats, discrimination and the issues of their well-being and also achievements by, with and for girls. Adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action reiterates the need to invest in girls’ most pressing needs and opportunities. It is believed that investing in girls is investing in a better future for all – girls themselves, their families and communities.
Chairperson of the occasion, Mrs. Evelyn Ideh in her opening address lauded MSDF for her continuous efforts towards supporting and encouraging the girl-child over the years and enjoined all the girls present to listen, participate and endeavour to work hard to be empowered.
In her welcome address, President\CEO of Morgan Smart Development Foundation, Dr. Omawumi Evelyn Urhobo, represented by the MSDF Manager, Omasan Eyikimiaghan, reminded participants of the reason for the special day set aside to celebrate the potentials of girls across the world. She highlighted some of the challenges facing the girl-child to include early marriage, denial of educational opportunities, discrimination in the home in favour of the male child, violence and sexual abuse, child labour etc., in the cruel attempt to quell, subdue, put down, silence, suppress, extinguish, and diminish the girl-child, using herself as an example.
In her keynote address entitled: Empowering girls for a better tomorrow, Hon. Ann Divine Iniovosa represented by Miss Rukky Iniovosa, spoke on the need for every girl to see beyond her limitations and focus on her strengths. Encouraging the girls to take opportunities seriously in spite of what society expects of them, she said: “The sky is big enough for everyone to shine, both boys and girls.” She advised the girl-child to always believe in herself and pursue her dreams and don’t let anything stop her.
Speaking on the Ills of teenage pregnancy, Mrs. Rita Ehime advised the girls to be well informed and seek knowledge and most importantly, focus more on their education and avoid situations that cause them to lose sight of their goals and aspirations in life.
In an interactive session with the girls, Faith Ojo encouraged them to always practise proper personal hygiene during menstruation as poor menstrual hygiene can lead to issues such as fungal or bacterial infections of the reproductive or urinary tract.
High point of the event was the presentation of prizes to the winners of the essay and spelling bee competitions which Atsiangbe Meyiwa and Animalu Chidinma both SS1 students of Uwangue College emerged first and second winners respectively, and Aisha Momodu, a JSS2 student of Essi College 1 emerged the winner of the spelling bee. Sanitary pads were given to all the participants.