The international day of the girl child is marked yearly on October 11. The year 2022 marks the 10th anniversary of this commemoration. The essence of the commemoration is to create awareness and draw the attention of the government to issues concerning the girl child. The theme for this year’s international day of the girl child, 2022 is *Our time is now – Our right, Our future.* Indeed the time, right and future for the girl child is now.
The question yet to be answered is: Will the society, culture, beliefs, traditions, etc allow the girl child take advantage of now as
the right time to claim the rights and fight for their future, especially here in our country, Nigeria?
What about those traditions that still promote and support female genital mutilation even here in Rivers State, Nigeria?
What about those traditions that are still giving out our adolescent girls out on marriages causing them pains and destroying their future even here in Nigeria? What about those families that still believe education is mainly for the male children and the girls are trained for marriage? What about those families that refuse to comply with the passed bills on girl child inheritance, even here in Rivers State? What about the men that are defiling our girls and even their own children even at a very tender age of one year or even less? What of parents who give out their children to older men just because of greed and money? What about our government and policy makers that are not even implementing the existing bills concerning the girl child rights?
We all know there are so many of these cases among others to mention.
This is a great concern to our organisation- Healthy Life Development Initiative and should equally be to all.
But what is the way forward?
There’s need to adopt effective strategies in dealing with girl child issues to groom great women for the future.
We will continue to create awareness, educate and build capacity for our young girls.
To be more responsive concerning issues of the girl child, as well as supporting and promoting their rights always.
We are calling on the Rivers State government on the implementation of the recent passed bill on women inheritance in the State. Also Our government, policy makers/ lawmakers especially here in Nigeria to implement existing laws and bills concerning the girl child and passage of new laws to support them especially on the trending issues of gender based violence, rape, child abuse, child trafficking etc that are reported daily in our country. The abuse of the girl child is getting worse every day and if it continues how will our little ones in our home country achieve this year goals which is marked globally.
But in reality, our girls can make this work and
equally help themselves if they are properly sensitized and educated. We can give them the opportunity and help them stand out for their voices to be heard both locally and globally. One can only fight when one has the right tools and knows how to use them.
To our girls, they need to be focused in life, study hard to achieve their set goals and have a voice in the society.
Adolescent girls have the right to safety, education and healthy living, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they grow into maturity. If well supported during their adolescent years, our girls have the potential to change the world positively as
empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s leaders, nation builders, workers, entrepreneurs, mentors and political leaders. A positive investment in realising the power of adolescent girls to uphold their rights today promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.
It is time for us all to get accountable for our girls and to invest in a future that believes in their potential.
Healthy Life Development Initiative will keep supporting and promoting the future success of our girls. We are equally calling on the parents, caregivers, government, individuals, both local and international organizations to support girl’s rights and inclusion locally and globally.
Signed by: Dr. Mfon Utin (CEO Healthy Life Development Initiative)