As the International Day for the Girl Child is marked the world over on Tuesday, 11th October, 2022, stakeholders in Anambra have called for concerted efforts towards entrenching the necessary framework and legislation that guarantee the effective development of the girl child.
This year’s celebration, marks the 10th anniversary of the annual international observance and has as its theme, ‘Our Time Is Now – Our Rights, Our Future.’
The celebration was emplaced to raise societal consciousness towards the need to adequately empower the girl child and give her voice.
Speaking on the celebration, the Convener, Young Anambra Women for Impact, Miss Chidinma Oramali said equipping the girl child with the right training is key to enabling her explore her rights for her betterment and that of the society.
According to her, a girl child well-trained, will grow into a woman and help train her children and as such, sustain the order of progressive growth in the society.
“It is now our tie to train the girl child to be the 21st century model woman, to be the woman you would wish for your male children.
“That girl we train today will be a woman tomorrow and help in training the boys and the girls and if we fail to train her the way we should, she will grow with the wrong mentality and impact same on her children.
“It is her right to have access to quality education and liveable skill with which she will develop herself and contribute meaningfully to the society,” she said.
The YAWI convener maintained that efforts at building a better Anambra state and larger society will be a failure without empowering the girl child.
She advised young girls not to unteachable and distracted but to focus on their goals, reminding them that access to the internet and other 21st century enablement must be explored in a positive way for better self-actualization and not for destructive means.
On her part, the Anambra State Coordinator of Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour, NACTAL, Eucheria Onyemaobi called on government to intensify the implementation of the existing legislations against negative child practices, as a way of making the society safer for the girl child.
“The government should help us in the NGOs and CSOs to make our jobs more effective by giving life to the letters of the various legislations against unwholesome child practices such as child labour, exploitation, abuse and trafficking.
“These are the problems the girl child especially faces in the society and when we say the time is now, it simply means that all hands must be on deck now, to change the present unpalatable situation of the girl child in the society,” she said.
Ms Onyemaobi, who is also the founder of Zaram Foundation, also harped on the need for stakeholders to be willing to speak out in the event of any abuse of the girl child, insisting that the task of training and protecting them, should be a collective responsibility.
Meanwhile, the Anambra State Government has said it is already taking decisive steps to ensure effective implementation of the existing legislations against negative practices and crimes that inhibit optimum development of the girl child.
The State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Ify Obinabo disclosed this in a chat with correspondent Kenechukwu on the sidelines of the International Day for the Girl Child, in her office in Awka.
Madam Commissioner noted that to reduce the cases of child abuse, labour and exploitation which is on the increase, the state government started by ensuring that the Child Rights Law and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition, VAPP Law are domesticated in the state.
She also revealed that the state has also established a special court for offences against the girl child and other gender-based violence offences, saying the court is presently handling over a hundred cases.
“We have observed that condemning these crimes when they happen and advising people to refrain does not solve the problem and that is why we taking issue of implementation of the enabling laws seriously.
“We have also commenced massive sensitization to enlighten our people especially at the grassroots about the existence of these laws and the rights that accrue to them from such legislations. Because it is only when you are aware of the provisions of these laws that you can talk about taking advantage of them.
“So, we are working through these laws and the family court we have established, to ensure that the rate of violence against the girl child and all forms of denials against them, is reduced minimally,” she said.
The commissioner also said the government is exploring partnership with the leadership of the various communities, to sensitize the people on the rights of the child and the need to protect them.
Mrs Obinabo who observed that the societal belief that tends to arrogate so much importance to the male gender, is also contributing to the dehumanization of the girl child, urging parents to shun such practices.
“Family and societal beliefs add a lot to depriving the girl child of getting what is due her.
“Take for instance, sharing of property in the family where the girl child is totally excluded. Most times, after the girl is married and she experiences troubles in her husband’s house and decides to come back, she is denied everything on the pretext that she is a woman and does not have an inheritance in her father’s house.
“That is totally wrong because the girl was not sold out from her father’s house in the first place.
“Most times, 80 percent of the girls are the ones taking care of her parents, despite being excluded from the so-called inheritance. So, why won’t our people be reasonable enough to empower the girl child?
“No child should be made to feel that she is inferior or superior to the other. All the children should be given equal opportunities.
“Let’s begin to change this very wrong practice that has not in anyway benefitted our society and caused problems for us,” Obinabo admonished.