The International Day of the Girl-Child, IDG, observed annually on the 11th of October is a global platform to advocate for the full rights of girls. The day is used to create awareness that the girl-child is being relegated to the background in some quarters, hence, the need for urgent step to be taken so as to empower her through education and skills acquisition.
This has become important because when you train a girl, you train a nation.
The 2023 theme, Invest in Girl’s Pride, Digital Generation, Our Generation.
As the girl-child was celebrated all over the globe, stakeholders have called for gender equality policies for the girl child because factors such as underage marriage, lack of water and sanitation, insecurity, poverty, lack of sanitary materials, genital mutilation, among others affect their lives. The girl needs equal opportunity.
The Rivers State Chairman of the National Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, Mrs. Susan Nwikhana- Serekara, maintained that there is need for urgent intervention in the issues that affect the girls negatively.
The girl-child should be confident and realise that she is valuable bearing in mind that cultural and other hindrance cannot stop them from achieving her goals in life. The girls should not sell themselves and government should ensure that the girls are protected in schools and wherever they find themselves. Girls should support each other.
Reports have it that low percentage of the girls have access to secondary school education in Nigeria. Apart from efforts by parents, relevant authorities, NGOs especially the female folks should assist the girls in providing educational materials to enable compete favourably with their peers.
Equal opportunity for girls is important as it will serve them well. Socio cultural practices have been hampering their performances. The deserve quality education this 21st century.
Corruption is one of the problems affecting some of the provisions that should be for them. They are subjected to cruel practices in the name of religion and culture.
Nigeria adopted the resolution about gender inequality with optimism that the female gender can bring change to the globe. We are optimistic that the objectives will be realised.
Women and girls should not be looked at as weaker sex any more. Females should occupy the same space as their male counterpart.
Adolescent girls should be empowered. They should be allowed to put their minds on what they want to become in life. Parents should not put all their income on the boys but should share it between the girls and the boys. Since youths are leaders of tomorrow, girls too are involved.
The responsibility of cleaning the house should not be for the girls alone while the boys go about playing. Discrimination between the two should not be encouraged. In certain quarters, girls are not allowed to eat certain food thereby denying them some required nutrients.
One day, the girls will grow into womanhood.
We can say that the world has made tremendous impact in the lives of the girls. The world has been conscious about the lot of girls. They have been given some opportunities in terms of computer and they are doing well. But the stereotype still remains but it can be removed. They are being looked down on. If the women have to be allowed to explore, then it starts from the girl.
When girls enroll into some disciplines like Engineering and Surveying where you have greater number of boys, they are being seen as those who missed their ways. When a woman drives with little errors on the roads, you hear some comments like, no wonder is a woman. Soft and hard should go together.
As the world marks International Day of the Girl -Child, parents, guardians and care givers should know the whereabouts of the female children. Very often, you hear that a girl has been kidnapped on her way to school, market or church. Parent should invest in the girl child so that she will not get into prostitution.
Parents should help the girls achieve their dreams in life and not to discourage them in their chosen professions. Parents should not select careers for the girls. They can do well all professions provided there is a level playing ground. Days are gone when girls were impregnated by unknown persons thereby making them drop out of schools.
it is important to give the girl good upbringing that will make her useful in the society. Women teach and transfer good values to children. Women are groomers and trainers.
When you give birth to a girl child, you have to train her well. Do not feel that when you finish training her, she will get married to another man which will make her change her name.
The girl-child is faced with underage marriage, sexual abuse in work places and educational institutions. These have to be checked before it becomes late.
The world will be a better place if girls and women are allowed to showcase their potentials when they are treated equally. The world can still go further. A lot are still hidden. If there is any time to restore the dignity of the girl -child, it is now.
Culturally, the girl child is not valued as the male child. It is believed that when a couple give birth to a female child without males, there will tension in the family. For the man, some friends and relatives will advise him to go another wife. Sometimes some women will be threatened for not having male children in the homes.
When it comes to sharing of fathers property, the discrimination comes in. Even when some state governments have approved that women should partake in the share of their fathers property, some persons have refused to adhere to that.
Some of the reasons according to them is that if certain portion of land is allocated to the woman, she may not want to marry outside.
By: Eunice Choko -Kayode
Women’s Role In Curbing Child Abuse
Women have a greater task to accomplish in curbing child abuse. Mothers are the ones who nurture and groom their offsprings and wards whether biological children or adopted.
It is necessary that any child who falls under the supervision of a mother, must be accounted for by that woman.
Shaping the life of a child depends so much on the mother even if certain percentage of care is being expected from a father. The mother starts nurturing a child from age zero till the adolescent stage. She should always do a follow-up at every stage of development of a child in her care.
Within the period of the growth, if there are negative tendencies exhibited by the child, the mother should be able to identify before the child goes to school. This is because the child starts learning from the home.
When you talk about child abuse, it starts from the home and the way every child is treated matters a lot.
The menace called child abuse is something that every hand must be on deck to ensure its eradication in the society. The major agent of eradication is the mother.
There are various forms of child abuse. You may discover that at every form of the menace, the woman is involved and should be held responsible for its consequences.
Of course, it is clear that child abuse does not have any positive impact on the society except the perpetrators of the act who gain from it. Some persons derive joy in seeing either their own child or another’s child being denied their rights and accomplishing their own goals.
According to United Nations Children Fund, (UNICEF) in 1989, child abuse is the portion of harm to children that results from human action or inaction that is proscribed, proximate and preventable.
The African Network for the Prevention or Protection against Child Abuse or Neglect (ANPPCAN), looked at child abuse as the intentional, unintentional or well-intentional act, which endangers the physical, health, emotional, moral and the educational welfare of the child.
Broadly, it means maltreatment of a child. Any form of action that brings about physical, mental, psychological and social torture to the child.
When you talk about child labour, which includes buying and selling most times, a woman will intentionally send out the child for hawking with the aim of making money. A situation where a woman’s children will be in school and she finds pleasure in sending a house help out, portends danger to that child.
A woman should not send an adopted child out to the neighbourhood alone to fetch water when her own children are idle because her role is to protect every child in her care, whether biological or not.
When you talk about child trafficking, apart from when children are in school, the mother should be aware of the location of the child at every time. Monitoring the children should be the watchword of every committed mother. When a woman is careless about the whereabouts of the child, that child can be picked up from any location without her knowledge.
A woman should not express anger on anything the child does at home. A child/ward can be corrected for wrong doing without being battered. It has been discovered in some homes that child battering has led to death or deformity of some children. A mother should know the kind of punishment a child deserves for correction.
Some women neglect their children by sending them to others for lack of basic needs. Every responsible woman should be able to have the number of children she can cater for. While the child is in another woman’s house, no one knows how many meals he or she takes in a day.
Sending a child out for hawking, especially a female, signals danger to the girl. That is a simple way of exposing her to sexual abuse. Some irresponsible persons with the pretence of buying something from her can lure her into unnecessary sexual abuse. The danger in that is that it can lead to unwanted pregnancy, contraction of STDs and HIV/AIDS.
Most rape cases that have been recorded are as a result of sending a girl out to hawk.
There is no harm in asking children to assist in selling, so as to meet up in the home, but if they are to sell in a kiosk no matter how little it may be, a mother can monitor the children there.
A mother should know that giving a child under the age of 18 out for marriage is an abuse. Women must nurture the children to maturity before sending them out because the dangers of underage marriage are devastating. When an underage girl is given out for any reason for marriage, do not forget that any consequences that arise from that will still fall back to the mother.
A mother should not send her child or ward out for prostitution in order to make money.
Parents and guardians, especially mothers, should be more educated and more awareness be created on why they should pay more attention to their children and wards.
By: Eunice Choko-Kayode
Fashion Ambassador Advises Against Indecent Dressing
A Nigerian fashion Ambassador, Miss Queen Fubara Daniel, has advised young people against indecent dressing.
The 21-year-old who is a student of the Rivers State University gave the advice in an interview in Port Harcourt.
According to the face of fashion Nigeria/face of fashion magazine, dressing half naked does not portray civilisation but foolishness.
She said young ladies can dress decently and still achieve their aims in the society, and linked the increasing rate of indecent dressing to pornography.
According to her, time has come for government to restrict media organisations on what they show to the public.
“Government should restrict the viewers on what they watch because people dress indecently and also copy what they watch or see on TV.
“So, if they are restricted, they will begin to dress nicely,”she said.
She, however, advised people to be cautious of what they wear as”it is the way you dress that some one will approach you or address you.”
Daniel said she would soon embark on campaigns to change the way especially young ladies dress, stressing that already, she has begun talking to some ladies on the importance of dressing decently.
“There is a plan to carry out a campaign next year through the trend that people follow on social media.”
Daniel said the campaign cannot succeed without the support of the government and philanthropic organisations.
Also speaking, Ambassador Precious Fubara who is the founder of Nigeria Fashion Magazine and Deputy Coordinator, Africa World Fashion Week said his ambition is to project the fashion industry in a way that would influence the society positively.
He said Queen Daniel serves as an ambassador to the industry and also the face of the industry.
According to him, Queen Daniel who will reign for two years as far as the fashion industry is concerned in the country will also represent Nigeria in international fashion show.
Women And Exclusive Breastfeeding
The importance of breastfeeding can never be over-emphasized to babies, mothers, family and the society at large.
Breastfeeding protects infants against infections and reduces the risk of contracting diseases. It also reduces the cost of healthcare expenses because the baby does not fall sick easily due to high immunity.
One of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding if practised by nursing mothers is that it protects women from ovarian cancer. The benefits are so numerous that one cannot ignore.
Despite these benefits and more, some nursing mothers do not have the wherewithal to practice that perfectly.
The truth is that nursing mothers must feed well to be able to breastfeed a sucking infant. Balance diet is involved while three-square meal must be available. But poverty and high cost of living are impediments.
Government at all levels and stakeholders in the health sector have developed a lot of policies that will assist women in that respect considering the enormous benefits but much has not been achieved.
Nursing mothers were allowed three-month maternity leave. But they are supposed to breastfeed exclusively for six months.
Not to long, the period was extended to six months. Such policy that supports exclusive breastfeeding should be encouraged and implemented to the fullest.
There should be enough parental leave for father and mother to ensure that the child is well nurtured. Government should ensure that there are breastfeeding breaks for working
mothers and their husbands.
At the level of development we find ourselves, some organisations do not allow nursing mothers to take their babies to their offices.
Allowing them a time to go and breastfeed their babies is a problem. As soon as some female employees have new born and proceed on maternity leave, that’s the end of that job.
Nursing mothers cannot be denied paid-employed jobs that will enable them earn a living because they are making babies and have other bills to settle.
According to UNICEF, the health, social and economic benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child are well-established and are acceptable the world over.
The report said that about 60 per cent of the world’s infants are denied the recommended three or six months of exclusive breastfeeding.
The report has it that, four out of 10 babies are breastfed exclusively, showing 40 per cent representation globally.
It is disheartening to hear some reports in the local communities, where some mothers give flimsy excuses.
It is difficult to see mothers who breastfeed babies up to eight months. It has been reported most of them have financial problems.
Some of the mothers interviewed said they cannot practised exclusive breastfeeding since they don’t feed adequately.
Some said that if they practice exclusive breastfeeding, that their breasts will slack and change shape. They believe that standing breasts make them look trendy, then prefer to use baby formula or artificial milk to feed their babies.
Mrs Ruth Akoye, who works in private business organisation complained that she stopped exclusive breastfeeding after two months to enable her resume work, otherwise she would be sacked.
She said there was no other option rather than introducing artificial milk.
Mrs Anita Umeh, prepares roasted bole and yam. She said: “Is it not when you feed very well that you can breastfeed exclusively?”
According to her, they teach us in the anti-natal clinic, but I cannot practise it because I cannot sit at home for money to come. Since I don’t have enough money to eat well, I bought baby-milk for my child to enable me gain some strength to do my business
A hair dresser, Mrs Uche Amos said only her first child, out of three enjoyed exclusive breastfeeding.
She said while nursing her second child, she became less interested about the policy and complained that her baby was always crying.
Mrs Amos alleged that neighbours were accusing her of starving the baby.
This infact, is one of the major problems in the society, some persons are of the opinion that the baby, who is exclusively breastfed does not get enough and should be introduced to baby formula and water to support the mother.
When some persons come across infants that are exclusively breastfed and they cry, they attribute it to hunger.
It is important to note that a child who is exclusively breastfed is healthier than the one that takes man-made milk. The condition can never be the same. When it comes to intelligence, the difference is clear.
A private school teacher, Mrs Amanda, said she could not continue exclusive breastfeeding for her baby due to the fact that she had to resume her teaching job within three months.
She lamented that it limited her time with the baby and the natural milk the baby would have enjoyed.
A business trader, Mrs Ijeoma Akpan, said her baby’ s joy to breast milk which she would have enjoyed was cut short because her breast milk refused to flow.
Nursing mothers need support and should be granted such requests.
Organisations, both public and private should create and establish creche in their offices where nursing mothers can keep their babies in the custody of caregivers while they breastfeed as the job is being done.
By: Eunice Choko-Kayode
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