In commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child, Youth Advocates has called for increased investment in the empowerment of the girl child and greater access to sexual reproductive health information and services.
The 2019 edition themed, “Empowering Girls for a Brighter Tomorrow” in Lagos was organized by Sustainable Impact and Development Initiative (SID Initiative) in collaboration with Girl Pride Circle, Improved Sexual Health and Rights Advocacy Initiative (ISHRAI) and supported by Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative 2. It convened 160 community leaders, parents and young girls and women at Agege Youth Center, to mark the global day.
SID Initiative’s Executive Director, Ms. Elizabeth Talatu Williams said the major challenge of a girl child in Nigeria was access to sexual reproductive health information and adolescent youth friendly services including empowerment opportunities.
“Nigeria cannot reap the benefits of the demographic dividend without empowering the majority of girls and women in the country. The government needs to prioritize the empowerment of the girl child by increasing access to sexual reproductive health information and adolescent youth-friendly services which would enable them to make informed decisions and fulfill their true potential”, Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth highlighted the sexual and reproductive health issues facing girls and women in the country which include but not limited to unplanned pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, and FGM. She urged parents and community leaders to educate their children and wards on their sex and sexuality.
Also speaking, the founder of Girl Pride Circle, Olaoluwa Abagun empowered the girls with skills and knowledge to fight against gender-based violence. She also called on government and civil society organizations to uphold justice for survivors of gender-based violence and that the victim is never at fault.
The girls and women were empowered with adequate sexual reproductive health and family planning knowledge and provided with HIV testing services by ISHRAI. Also, they were empowered with short-term livelihood skills on liquid soap and toilet disinfectant production.
The representative of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) Agege Local Government, Mrs. Oloruntobi “commended the efforts of the SID Initiative and encouraged the girls to effectively utilize the skills and knowledge they have acquired to make healthy decisions and generate income for themselves and their families”.