In commemoration of the 2018 International day of the girl child, a non-governmental organization, Aids Health Foundation, AHF rallied voices and engaged stakeholders to ensure that girls have right to education in safety and dignity.
According to the foundation spokesman, Steve Aborisade, the event which took place in Cross River was done in collaboration with the state government and had in attendance relevant stake holders in addition to 150 students drawn from all parts of the state.
Steve in a statement explained that the event also served as a platform to present prizes to finalists of an essay competition instituted by AHF in the state.
Young girls had been asked to send in an essay on “ Making Schools Safe Spaces for Girls” with focus on the roles each stakeholder is expected to perform, he stated.
He added that the winners of the competition which was independently scored by panelists from the Abuja Writers Forum, AWF won laptops and books.
The first prize went to Constance Mboto of Government Secondary School, Calabar, While Archibong Peace Etim of Government Secondary School, Henshaw and, Bassey Pereka of Model High School were joint second prize winners.
The foundation’s Country Program Director, Dr. Echey Ijezie, said ‘‘AHF believes that through dialogue with girls and other stakeholders about girls’ rights, we can learn about what works best to protect them and to create a supportive environment for their flourishing.’’
Dr. Echey added that ‘‘Questions continued to be asked about how we keep schools safe for children given the security challenges.
How can we ensure that children have access to safe and effective learning spaces? How would we end school-related gender based violence (SRGBV)?’’
According to him, ‘‘the objective of the event is to be able to rally the voices of every stakeholder, for our girls to have the right to education in safety and dignity.
Dr. Iyang Asibong, Hon. Commissioner for Health, Cross River State, lamented on the high rate of teenage pregnancy which stood at 17% in the state.
He however stated that the State Government is committed to crash the high rate. ‘‘We have embraced AHF and its initiatives because of the impact we know it would have, and we are doing everything possible to arrest the trend of teenage pregnancy. We thank AHF, UNFPA, Girls Power Initiative and Cuso Internation and other partners for their support.’’ ‘‘On our part, we have built youth friendly centres in the General Hospitals to cater to the challenges of young girls, and we are committed to doing more.’’
Miss Ama Archibong, a girl child advocate urged parents to listen more to their daughters and share of their concerns.
Dr. Kenneth Ehouzou, Head of UNFPA in Cross River said young girls also contributes to Nigeria’s maternal mortality burden. ‘‘Because so many young girls are pregnant when they are too young to be pregnant, they face complications that are preventable and which several times have taken their lives.’’
‘‘There is also the problem of fistula. We have 12, 000 cases of fistula in Nigeria, and most of these are among young girls. We need to do more for them.’’
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