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Empowering girls, ending cycle of violence

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IN 2012, the United Nations declared October 11, International Day of the Girl Child. Since then, this day has been commemorated internationally to empower girls and raise awareness about the challenges they face.

  Every year, the International Day of the Girl Child is an opportunity to highlight problems in education, health and advance solutions for their alleviation.

  The theme for this year is “Digital Generation: Our Generation.” This theme calls for equal access to the internet and digital access to the internet and digital devices for girls and targeted investments to facilitate opportunities for girls to safely and meaningfully access, use, lead and design technology.

  United Nations statistics show that about 129 million girls around the world are out of school with less than 40 per cent of countries providing girls and boys equal access to education.

  They day is dedicated to the growth of girls around the world and promotes awareness about gender equality as well as focuses on the issues faced by girls worldwide.

  In his message to commemorate the day, United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, noted that the strength, health and empowerment of the world’s girls is an issue for everyday of the year saying that International Day of the Gird Child is an opportunity to recommit to the global imperative.

  According to him, the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Technology and Innovation is United Nations platform.

  “Today’s girls are part of a digital generation. It is our responsibility to join with them in all their diversity, amplify their power and solutions as digital change-makers and address the obstacles they face n the digital space,” he stated.

  The secretary general observed that internet use spanning geographies and generations has grown from 11 per cent in 2013 to 17 per cent six years later.

  Guterres informed that in more than two thirds of all countries, girls make up only 15 per cent of graduates in STEM subject (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)

  He opined that girls have equal have equal ability and immense potential in these fields and when they are empowered everybody benefits.

  “The United Nations is committed to working with girls so that this generation, whoever they are and whatever their circumstances, can fulfill their potential.

  He called on all to ensure that girls play their full part in the digital generation to design and secure our common future.

  Also speaking on the day, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), made a case for the rights, safety and education of the girl child in Nigeria.

  NAWOJ in a statement signed by the President, Ladi Bala and Secretary, Helen Udofa and issued to journalists on Monday, observed that girls face distinct disadvantages for being both young and female.

  NAWOJ urged governments to ensure that every girl child has access to the educational opportunities she requires to build a better life for herself in addition to keeping girls in school, since education is essential to women’s future.

  Also, the association  called on governments at all levels to commit to ensuring opportunities and equality for girls and urged everyone to tackle those persistent barriers against equal opportunities for girls as well as those that inimical to the advancement of girls in Nigeria.

  “We urge actions towards the elimination of all forms of discrimination against girls and an end to those practices that hinder the chances of our girls at education, technology inclusion, healthcare, economic empowerment, right to inheritance, as well as all forms of violence against girls, while survivors of violence should be provided with safe spaces, prompt and free medical attention, counseling and legal assistance.

  NAWOJ strongly believes that providing protection, equal opportunities for the girl child besides being a fundamental human right is essential to achieving peaceful societies, with human potential and sustainable development. Moreover, it has been shown that empowering women spurs productivity and economic growth.  So ensuring that girls reach their full potentials is not just a moral imperative, but a strategic one as well.

  “There is a need to educate the girl child about their rights, help them make healthy choices, protect them from violence and teach them to be leaders and be able to build a brighter future. There is no gainsaying that when our government and the private sector invest in the education of girls, our communities would be healthier and our economies stronger.”

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