By Shamsudeen Muhammad

Since 2012, 11 October has been marked by the United Nation as the International Day of the Girl Child. The day aimed to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. It is a day to raise awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality around the world. It is a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere.

The fulfillment of girls’ right to education is first and foremost an obligation and moral imperative. There is also overwhelming evidence that girls’ education, especially at the secondary level, is a powerful transformative force for societies and girls themselves.

To commemorate this year International Day of the Girl Child, it is celebrated with the theme of “Empowering Girls for a Brighter Tomorrow.” The Trust believes that participating in such events focuses on the atrocities faced by women in society due to orthodox and patriarchal beliefs. And also, investing in Girls’ Education and empowering girls during adolescence and preventing and eliminating the various forms of violence they experience, we are joining the world to observe and support opportunities for girls and increase awareness of gender inequality faced by our girls in Nigeria.

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The aim of this historic day is to support and advocate for young girls to contribute in building an inclusive and equal society for women and girls across the globe. This day also addresses issues relating to girls Education, Leadership and Economic Empowerment for rural young women and girls.

It is unfortunate that although we lives in the 21st century, girls child are deprived of their right to education and a better life due to the social problem such as street hawking, domestic violence, child labour, sexual harassment, rape and prostitution. Our girls are vulnerable in society, and are faced with lots of challenges which hinders or interfere with their development. It is our duty and responsibilities as citizens to ensure our sisters are safe, provide better education, health and sanitation.

To curve this menace, government should provide quality education to every child. Education should be made accessible to every nook and cranny of the rural areas, free and compulsory to every girl. Government at all levels and NGOs shall continue to create awareness to the parents in rural communities on why they should send their children to school. Education is the birth right of every child therefore all girls child should be send to school.

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The year 2020 has never been comfortable to the girls owing to the geometric escalating rate of rape which is a heineous crime against humanity. The Nigerian police recorded 717 rape cases just between January and May 2020. UNICEF reported in 2015 that one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. According to a survey by Positive Action for Treatment Access, over 31.4 percent of girls there said that their first sexual encounter had been rape or forced sex of some kind. It’s not a profound mystery or explained by deep psychosocial complexity on why do men rape. For rapists, rape is easy.

It’s just their lifestyle. Until we treat rapist as ordinary criminals we won’t stop them. On several instances, the rape victims have been reported to death and the autopsy result conclude that the cause of death is rape. The beautiful dreams and aspirations of our sisters are been taken away by heartless and hungry wolf whose existence on earth is questionable to the society beyond all justifications on why they should live.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

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That’s why it’s important for everyone to be part of the campaign on this occasion of International Day of the Girl Child to end the impunity that allows such crimes to continue. For far too long, impunity, silence and stigma have allowed violence against women to escalate to pandemic proportions.

Women and girls have seen and faced the worst forms of violence and abuse and now is the time for a change. We can’t stay quiet whiles promising girls are been abused everyday. We can’t sit back and watch irresponsible and misguided men, daunt the future of our girls. We refuse to deliberately give blind eyes to all forms of violence and abuse suffered by our girls.

Finally, I am appealing the stakeholders involved including government, civil societies, teachers, parents and community leaders to champion the campaign and be steadfast to ensure girls are safe in society. We should ensure commitments, that girls are given the opportunity to grow and participate in national development.

Shamsudeen Muhammad, Youth Activist from Bauchi, Undergraduate Student of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University. Contact: +2347056220944

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