A school of thought explains, “educate women to build a home and men to build a nation.” The status quo states that the female gender is subjected to making a family and being a supporter not to being supported.
A girl child means a female child or a young woman. And in Nigeria, a girl child means second-class humans who are expected to submit their entirety.
Interestingly, the female gender is getting more recognized than never before, a light is upon the girls. There is a demand for women to be put in positions that matter, a result of the hard work of fearless and resilient women like Funmilayo Ransome Kuti.
My experience at the grassroots level has made me realize that Sustainable Development Goals are yet to be implemented and realized, Gender Equality especially, and it is worth noting that the SDGs state that no one should be left behind but the case of Nigeria is just a different one.
In 2021, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) revealed that in Nigeria, an estimated 1.3 million girls drop out of school each year before reaching the last year of lower secondary school, also known as Junior Secondary school three (JSS 3). Issues like child marriage and teenage pregnancy and discrimination have in no small way contributed to the low rate of girl child education.
Culture and religion are held in great esteem and have been tagged as major hindrances in allowing the girl child to shine as they are expected to. In a particular culture in Nigeria, girls are taken to cities to be housemaids or housegirls and return to the village at age 18 to get married to a suitor who has paid her dowry for years. This cultural practice still thrives in Nigeria because nothing has been done about it.
Religion also believes the girl child’s destiny is tied to being prepared for marriage, getting married, and making babies. Girls are expected not to speak but to listen, those that choose to speak are seen as threats to their male counterparts and concerns to their mothers.
Even in civilized societies, there are prejudices against the female gender in different facets. An average lady in Africa who lives in luxury and is unmarried is seen as a threat to the moral stance of society and also a prayer point to many. Men see them as threats to their egos in relationships and workplaces.
Women’s lives are full of complexities that require extra effort to make meaning of their situations and circumstances. And a major way to make this meaning is by helping them out as they set out as a girl child through education.
An average girl child in our nation, has experienced assaults or harassment from older men or even her peers which caused her, her self-esteem and pride. They suffer from an identity crisis and expect to do double to prove themselves to parents, teachers, and society at large.
The menace of low girl child education has shown in the growth of Nigeria, overpopulation, and out-of-school children are among many, the result.
A major strategy employed by developed nations is to allow women to be contributors to their various sectors. Stakeholders, like the government, girl advocates, and teachers need to double up their efforts on empowering the girl child.
Empowering the girl child will assist the economy, mitigate overpopulation and achieve the development goals for society. When the girl child is made valuable, a major segment of society will contribute value. Girls that will end up as edifices in the economy, education, health, entertainment and governance will surge.
Amazons like Tobi Amusan, Asisat Oshoala, Nora Awolowo can raise and better the lives of their families, countries, and the world at large when they are fully capacitated and equipped with equal opportunities and an enabling environment for the realization of dreams.
Let us all together create a society where the girl child can thrive not strive. The girl child needs a world without discrimination, molestation, abuse, and violence.
A girl child is not an object of admiration but a supplier of value to society. This is not a feminist call but a clarion call for society to raise, contribute to the development of the girl child. If and when empowered, we are nation-builders!
This opinion story has been published on Nigeria Grassroot News with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author. Nigeria Grassroot News does not bear any responsibility for the contents of this story, all views belong to the author.
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