IDG 2023: ActionAid Nigeria Decries Continued Insecurity of Girls, Calls for Regional and International Collaboration to Address the Crisis
[Abuja, Nigeria 10th October 2023] — ActionAid Nigeria stands united with the world in commemorating the 2023 International Day of the Girl under the theme "Invest in Girls' Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being." This theme resounds as a fervent call to invest in the empowerment of girls, enabling them to become leaders and advocates for their own well-being.
Speaking in Abuja, ActionAid Nigeria’s Country Director, Andrew Mamedu emphasised that, "Commemorating this day with Nigerian-girls holds immense significance for ActionAid Nigeria, as it aligns with our unapologetic bias in championing the rights of women and girls. Unfortunately, the socio-economic and cultural landscape of our nation often fails to align in their favour. The pervasive issue of insecurity continues to cast a dark shadow over the education of young girls in Nigeria. In the last eight years, more than 1,000 children have been abducted, with atleast 80% of them being girls. This alarming trend emphasises the urgent need for all tiers of Government to prioritise the safety of girls not only within the confines of school walls, but also in their communities and on their journeys to school.
Despite the global outcry after the abduction of the Chibok girls, it is disheartening that after almost a decade, more than 90 of them are still unaccounted for. Similar incidents have plagued different parts of the country, in Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna States amongst others, with abductions often occurring within the school environment. How much longer can we stand by while our girls' futures are jeopardised?’’
Andrew Mamedu also noted that poverty and child marriage are also bedveiling the education of Nigeria-girls – ‘‘The report from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that 6 out of 10 girls aged 12–17 are poor. Among those in child marriages, approximately 8 out of 10 are poor. In the same light, UNICEF’s report highlights that 3 in 25 young men are get married in childhood, while an alarming 10 in 25 women are married off before the age of 18, often to partners ten or more years their senior.
Adding to this crisis, five states - Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, and Zamfara States- are yet to adopt and implement the Child's Rights Act (CRA). This glaring nonchalance to the CRA leaves countless Nigerian children, especially girls, exposed to rights violations, denying them the protections they rightfully deserve. Some of those entrusted with safeguarding these rights are, regrettably, the very perpetrators of these violations, particularly in cases of child marriage.’’
Andrew Mamedu emphasised that, without concerted collaboration between Federal and State Governments and lawmakers to dismantle barriers hindering the progress and well-being of Nigerian girls, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, notably SDG 5 – Gender Equality, will be a prolonged endeavour. He emphasised that ‘'Continued insecurity faced by our girls has far-reaching and detrimental effects on their lives and well-being. This includes the disruption of their education, psychological trauma, exposure to physical health risks, and a general undermining of their rights.'’
He affirmed that development partners and legislators should advocate for policies that specifically address the unique security concerns faced by girls, including safe transportation options and secure learning environment. Specifically, ActionAid Nigeria demands that:
- The Federal and State Governments must wholeheartedly embrace and enforce measures that shield our children from harm. The domestication of the Child's Rights Act in every state should not be a mere option, but an absolute imperative.
- Law enforcement agencies must begin to work collaboratively with different levels of government, education agencies and ministry to track and apprehend perpetrators of abductions and other security threats. This include seeking regional and international cooperation in addressing insecurity, particularly in regions prone to abductions and related security threats or close to borders to create a coordinated approach to security.
- The National Orientation Agency should launch extensive awareness campaigns aimed at educating communities about the importance of school safety and the collective role they play in achieving it.
- Schools must implement programmes that equip girls with essential safety skills and knowledge to protect themselves in potentially dangerous situations. They must also stablish accessible channels for girls who have experienced trauma because of insecurity to receive professional counseling and support.
ActionAid Nigeria, a social justice non-governmental organization working to eradicate poverty and all forms of injustice in Nigeria. We are an affiliate member of the ActionAid International Federation with a presence in 45 countries. AAN works in solidarity with people living in poverty and exclusion to achieve social justice, gender equality, and poverty eradication towards achieving a just, equitable, and sustainable world in which every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity, freedom from poverty and all forms of oppression.
Oluwakemi Akinremi-Segun | Communications Coordinator | ActionAid Nigeria