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Child Marriage: Tallen Advocates Free Education as Panacea

The Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, has identified implementation of free education at the Senior Secondary School level to save girl child from early marriage.

According to her, early child marriage was affecting girl child future, which she described as unfortunate.

Tallen disclosed this in Abuja, during a conversation with the African Union Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Ending Child Marriage and other Harmful Practices Secretariat led by Honourable Takam Gasting Kembo.

“Education is the life investment; it is the first empowerment we give a child; once a child is educated, she can decide what is right or bad for herself.”

“For a second chance at education, especially for the Girl-child who may want to return to school after getting pregnant or married and having had a baby or children.” She stated.

The Minister also suggested that all offices and organizations should maintain a Day-care Centre for babies, so that the mothers can concentrate on their preoccupation or studies without much distractions.

Kembo, who is a Cameroonian and a Magistrate by profession asked very many probing questions after she and her team have been briefed extensively on the situation of the scourge as well as strategies employed by Nigeria’s policy makers to stem early child marriage and other harmful practices.

Apart from the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen leading the Team her Ministry in the conversation, the Honourable Ministers of Health and Education took part were represented Tinu Taylor and Dr. John Ovuoraye (representatives of the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Emmanuel Osagie Ehanire) as well as Dr. Uche Udoji and Akor Adamu (representatives of the Honourable Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu).

The Special Rapporteur, Kembo earlier revealed the reasons for the visit which was to track and report on the Nigeria’s progress of implementation on Ending Child Marriage campaign output, which includes the challenges, lessons and best practices while providing key recommendations to accelerate the implementation of the Ending Child Marriage action plan.

Dame Pauline Tallen in response, to the initial briefing commended the good works the African Union Commission Special Rapporteur on Ending Child Marriage and Other Harmful Practices Secretariat is doing with regards to the subject matter. Tallen stated that the issue of Child Marriage calls for concern due to the negative effects of child marriage across generations. She revealed that girls who marry in childhood who often suffer short falls in schooling and nutrition. Tallen added that this gained more traction during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The women affairs minister revealed that Nigeria’s strategies at tackling the issue of early marriage were developed in collaboration with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Tallen further revealed that there was landmark progress in the area of Girl-child development after the launch of the campaigns to end child marriage by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

The Minister listed areas of her advocates to include the domestication of the Child Right’s Act (2003), a Federal Legislation, by 33 States; Re-commitments by the Federal Government of Nigeria to end violence against children.

Others are; Orchestrated National Strategy to End Child Marriage as championed by Nigeria’s President;
National priority agenda for Vulnerable Children; The creation of a Girl-child Division in the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to provide a stronger platform to address issues confronting the Girl-children; and
Promotion of second-chance education programme, amongst others.

She also stated that Federal Ministry of Women Affairs had launched the National Gender-Based Violence (GBV) data-collation tool to ease the dearth of GBV data in the country. She added that she has led some advocacy visits to Traditional Rulers and Religious Leaders across the federation, all in a bid to end child marriage. These she added are already yielding positive results.

The special rapporteur, Honourable Kembo stated that the implication of the traditional rulers, empowerment of the adolescent girls, issue of institutional framework on child protection among others, “are key points to be dealt with and also to have more lights shed on the development that are unfolding in the country.”

According to a statement issued to newsmen by the Ministry’s Director Press and Public Relations, Olujimi Oyetomi, the Honourable Minister and the Special Rapporteur came up with a resolution to advocate for free education for children, both boys and girls up to senior secondary school level which will make the issue of child marriage be fully dealt with and eradicated in Nigeria.

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