The government of Canada, in collaboration with the federal government, has flagged off campaign to end gender based violence against women and girls in Nigeria.
The Canadian government pledged to support Nigeria with N11billion to help increase availability and access to critical health commodities and services for women and girls.
Speaking during the flag off, themed: 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence Campaign,” yesterday in Abuja, the Canadian High Commissioner, Philip Baker, said the funds will also help prevent and address gender based violence in Nigeria, including female genital mutilation and cutting.
According to him, the projects, which will be implemented by Save the Children Nigeria, UNFPA, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), reflects Canada’s continued support for reproductive, maternal, and child health in Nigeria, which includes addressing the gaps in sexual and reproductive health services among women.
The commissioner also launched three new initiatives to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women in Nigeria.
In her address, the founder of Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) Mrs Tonyin Saraki, who was represented by Mr Andy Gabriel, noted that, 44 per cent of girls are married off before their 18th birthday, and 17 per cent before they turn 15. And the prevalence figures is as high as 76 per cent in the north-west region, and as low as 10 per cent in the south-east region.
She added that policy development and implementation has become necessary as only 23 out of the 36 states in Nigeria have taken concrete steps to implement the minimum age marriage, which according to the Child Rights Act of 2003 is set at 18 years.