By Stanley Onyekwere
As Abuja residents joined to mark this year’s international Day for the Girl-child, stakeholders have declared resolve to redouble efforts at ensuring improved well-being of the girl child in the nation’s capital city.
Our correspondent reports that various stakeholders from all walks of life made this point at weekend, during an event organised by Abuja based Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Helpline Foundation for the Needy, in collaboration with Make A Difference for the Needy Foundation, as part of activities to commemorate the 2019 International Day for the Girl Child, with the theme; “Empowering Girls for a Brighter Tomorrow”.
Speaking at the event, Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, reinforced the commitment of the FCT Administration to create an enabling environment for the girl child to thrive.
Aliyu stressed the need for government at all levels to come up with policies and programmes that would encourage the girl child to realise her potential in society.
The Minister, who identified mentorship as key to growth and development of the girl child, also called on parents especially mothers to always monitor the emotional growth of the girl child, noting that mothers are closer to the girl child.
According to her, it is important for the girl child to realize her potential, which can only be done through mentoring.
She urged the girls to seek out role models in their society and not necessarily public figures they may not have access to, stressing that every woman is special so “there must be one mentor in your neighborhood.”
“Mentorship and mentoring is fundamental to the development of the girl child, starting from parenting to successful women in all endeavors of life.
“The girls must be taught by their parents to identify a role model from their teachers or neighbourhoods.
“The girl child has suffered all kinds of oppression from tradition, to religion and the believe that the girl child should not be heard, for she is a weaker sex.
“FCT Administration has already taken the bold step of increasing the enrolment rate of girl child in schools. As it is, we are almost recording 50/50 participation rate in schools.
“The girl child is given a large space and encouraged to realise her potential. We are going a step further through sensitisation and getting them to know that they are special. Packages will soon come and everyone will know that the girl child is in the heart of the FCT Minister”. She stressed.
Also speaking, President of Helpline Foundation for the Needy Abuja, Dr. Jumai Ahmadu, said the event was aimed at amplifying the voices of the girl child and to ensure that they stand for their rights, adding that in nearly 25 years of Beijing Declaration, the girl child has moved from dreaming to achieving.
“More girls today are attending and completing school, fewer are getting married or becoming mothers while still children, and more are gaining the skills they need to excel in the future world or work.
“Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalized communities,” she affirmed.
Ahmadu added that Helpline Foundation has already started mentoring young girls through its Leadership Development Centre for Women, where identified mentors are paired with them for effective mentoring experience.
Similarly, the Founder of Make A Difference for the Needy Foundation, Mrs. Maria Ogbonnaya-Ngwu, opined that the essence of the programme was borne out of the believe that every girl has the potential to transform her life regardless of her background and also teach them to be confident to push on and pursue their dreams in any field of endeavour.
Ogbonnaya-Ngwu said, “Educate a girl child, you educate a nation, and empower a girl child for a brighter tomorrow.”
The highpoint of the event was a novelty football match between girls from youth Parliamentarians and selected public schools within the FCT, aimed at showcasing the strength of the girl child.