October 21, 2022

Int’l Day of Girl Child: UNICEF, AstraZeneca, Kwara, others reiterate commitment to GSBV in Africa


•As Lagos Assembly demands protection of girl child

By Ebunoluwa Sessou

For every girl child in the world, October 11, is a day set aside by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, in a year to celebrate and recognise her rights and the unique challenges she faces around the world. 

The International Day of the Girl Child, as celebrated by AstraZeneca’s Africa team, is geared towards inspiring and advancing the next generation of women and girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

To commemorate the day, AstraZeneca’s senior leaders stepped aside from their roles for the day to give 15 girls from Johannesburg, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Accra and Lagos, Nigeria a unique opportunity to take charge.

This year’s theme, ‘Our Time is Now – Our Rights, Our Future’ comes with an #GirlsBelongHere aimed to promote inclusion and draw attention to the obstacles faced by young women in Africa even as girls across the world demand recognition of their power, inclusiveness and sustainable pathways to political participation. 

First Lady, Kwara State/Founder Ajike Pepple Support Centre, Amb. Olufolake Abdulrasaq, said, girls have the potential to change the world. 

‘Today, we celebrate International Day of the Girl Child, we cannot avoid knowing that girls are breaking boundaries and barriers every day. 

‘On this day, I reaffirm my belief that it is the right of every girl to have access to quality and affordable education as well as other basic necessities in a peaceful and secured environment. 

“I therefore call on stakeholders for continued support and investment in realizing the power of the girl child and implement policies that are equitable and prosperous for their future.

“In my capacity, I will continue to protect our girls more effectively from all forms of violence, child labour, child trafficking, child marriage and other related vices”, she said.

 In her speech, GenU 9JA Lead/Chief of Field Office, UNiCEF Lagos, Celine Lafoucriere, lamented that despite the efforts in the past ten years to increase discussion by government, policymakers and the public and more opportunities for girls to have their voices heard on the global stage, the investments in girls’ rights remains limited and girls continue to be confronted with a myriad of challenges to fulfill their potential.

“Girls around the world and in Nigeria continue to face unprecedented challenges to their education, physical and mental wellness and the protection they need for a life without violence.

“The world’s 250million adolescent girls have shown that given the skills and opportunities, they can be change makers driving progress in their communities.

“Nigeria is home to 25million adolescent girls aged 10-19years, the largest number in history, vested with huge potential, if we do not urgently prioritize the future and well-being of all Nigerian girls, the stakes are high.

“UNICEF/Generation Unlimited 9JA calls on the Nigerian government, private sector and civil society partners to increase their targeted investments in adolescent girls including their health, protection, education and lifelong learning”, she stated.   

Meanwhile, Lagos State House of Assembly passed a motion seeking better protection of the female children. 

Presiding, the speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, joined his other 39 lawmakers to appreciate the various non-governmental organisations championing the cause of the girl child, carrying out advocacy and ensuring their protection.

Obasa who commended his colleague, Mojisola Alli-Macaulay who moved the motion noted: “The International Day for the Girl Child is an opportunity to bring to the fore the challenges facing the girl child such as violation of babies by men, abuse of drugs, cultism among others.

“It is also an opportunity to scrutunise the performance of government agencies saddled with the responsibility of protecting the girl child,” he said.

Also, Founder, Bella Foundation for Child and Maternal Care, Bella Akhagba insists that the International day of the girl child is a day to celebrate girls, reawaken government commitment and holding the government accountable on issues affecting the girl child.

“We are also using the day to create awareness on child rights, sexual and gender based violence and child marriage, inequality in education which is impeding the development of the girl child today

“International day of the Girl child acknowledges the importance, power and potential of adolescent girls by encouraging the opening of more opportunities for them”, she said.

 Presenting papers on Child Right, Child Marriage and Sexual and Gender Based Violence, Ayodeji Precious, SSS2 Art, Esther Opeyemi SSS2 Science and Islamiat Salaudeen SSS3 Science Students of St Emma Comprehensive College called on government as well as the society empower, educate and give the girl child and woman enabling environment to contribute to the development of the country.