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SCI Tasks Governments At All Levels On Ending Child Marriage

Save the Children (SCI)Nigeria, has urged governments at all levels in Nigeria, to develop a national action plan toward ending child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence against children.

Mr Amanuel Mamo, SCI Nigeria’s Director of Advocacy Campaigns ,Communication and Media said this on Monday in Abuja, at a media roundtable in commemoration of the International Day of the Girl, 2022.

Mamo said that the SCI wanted government to increase funding and efforts to address gender-based violence against girls.

“Ten years ago, governments and people working for children, gender equality and girls’ rights around the world agreed to dedicate one day annualy to celebrate girls’ achievements and bring attention to the challenges they are faced with.

“How far have we come since the first International Day of the Girl? Despite promises by world leaders, girls stand at the frontline of the world’s most pressing issues, and child marriage continues, all over the world.

” Before COVID-19, global estimates of the rate of child marriage was decreasing but the world was still a long way off meeting the Sustainable Development Goal deadline to end child marriage by 2030.

“The number of girls marrying each year was estimated to be around 12 million; and 2 million of those girls were married before their 15th birthday,” he said.

Mamo added:“SCI conducted a new research to better understand how much conflict increases the risk of child marriage and how many girls are affected.

“The research revealed that around the world, 89.2 million adolescent girls currently live in conflict zones, almost one in five adolescent girls aged 10-17 years.

“These girls live with the heightened risks to their rights , physical and mental health that come with conflict, including child marriage.”

He said that Nigeria also has one of the highest number of child marriages and out-of-school-children globally.

“SCI Nigeria , commends the states that have passed the Child Protection Law, and urges all the remaining states to follow suit.”

Mamo said that having the Child Protection Law was the key legal instrument to protecting the rights of girls and boys, adding that efforts should be made to fully implement it.

A Girl-Child Advocate, Miss Khadija Badamassi, said that investments in girls’ rights remained limited and girls continued to face many challenges to fulfilling their potential.

Badamassi said that girls with disabilities were faced with additional barriers to accessing support and services.

She said that COVID-19 worsened existing burdens on girls around the world and took away important gains made over the last decade; worsening the issues around child early and forced marriage.

“Girls in my community face a lot when it comes to child early and forced marriage, child marriage has caused more harm than good in my society today.

“Child marriage violates children’s rights and places them at high risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse.”

Miss Madina Abdulkadir, lawmaker representing Dikwa Constituency of Borno in Children Parliament and Chairperson of the Committee on Child’s Participation ,said the girl child, just like the boy child had a right to safe and educated life and deserved to live a healthy life.

Abdulkadir, also Girl-child Champion for SCI , called on the government and stakeholders to raise awareness on the important role a girl child played in the society.

She stressed the need to promote a safe social media platforms to engage girls across all platforms and put an end to stigmatisation.

She urged the government to support female leadership and create policies that would support girls, saying government should make our parents their partners in decision making process.
” On this year’s international day of the girl child with the theme ‘’Our Time is now, our right, our future’’ Every girl child plays a significant role in the world because the progress of all regions depends on the success of girls across the globe.”

Miss Maryam Ahmed, SCI’s Youth Ambassador, said it had been 10 years since the Girl child Day was introduced, lamenting that not enough had been done.

“The first step that Nigeria should take is to prioritise the passage of the Child Rights Act into a national law.

“This is because the CRA is a comprehensive document that clearly identifies the rights of children and provides sanctions to anyone who compromises those rights.

“Having the CRA passed,financed and implemented will bind parents,guardians to ensure that the rights of children are fulfilled, including going to school.”

She called on governments at all levels and stakeholders to rise to the occasion of protecting the girl child.

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