As Nigerians join the global community to celebrate the 2021 International Women’s Day (IWD) on Monday, Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari and a civil society group, Journalism and Development Seminars Initiative (JADESeminars) have called on Nigerians to redress the menace of insecurity hindering girl-child education in the country.
In her goodwill message to Nigerian women posted on her Twitter handle, @Aishambuhari, Mrs Buhari congratulated women all over the world for their resilience, hard work, and commitment to the progress of humanity.
The message signed personally by the First was titled “Message of the First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2021.
Mrs Buhari called on all Nigerians to continue to leverage their different levels of influence to bring to an end the spate of abductions of women and girls in Nigeria by armed bandits and terrorists.
The message read, “Today marks the 2021 edition of International Women’s Day.
“This year’s theme: Women In Leadership: Achieving on Equal Future in a COVID-19 World is a strong call to appreciate the efforts of women and girls in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has had a huge impact on women; disrupted education and careers, lost jobs, descent into poverty, and proliferation of domestic violence.
“Many have also died or suffered due to lack of access to basic information on the pandemic.
“It is therefore important, not just to continue spreading the message of the COVID-19 protocol, but to remember and support those who have been affected negatively by the pandemic in one way or another.
“Away from COVID-19, women and girls in Nigeria have continued to suffer abductions both in the hands of insurgents and bandits.
“As a mother, I share the sorrow and agony of the victims and their families. I am also not unaware of the impact that these abductions could have in reversing many successes we have hitherto achieved, especially in terms of girl-child education and early marriages.
“The 2021 International Women’s Day celebration offers yet another opportunity for humanity to review and reflect the progress made on issues of women and girls.
“I call on all stakeholders to continue to exert their different levels of influence and bring these abductions to an end and to assure us that girls are safe anywhere they may find themselves.
“My best wishes to women all over the world for their resilience, hard work, and commitment to the progress of humanity. Happy International Women’s Day. “
Spate of insurgency
Since the rise of insurgency in the country, with the coming of Boko Haram in 2009, young promising girls have become soft targets of various armed groups who use them either as sex objects or bargaining chips for their evil enterprise.
In April 2014, about 276 young girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorist group from their hostels in Chibok Secondary School in Borno State.
Although about 57 of the girls were reported to have managed to escape captivity, almost seven years later, the fate of about 219 remaining girls remains unknown.
Also, another set of 110 school girls from Dapchi Girls Secondary in Yobe State, including the now famous Christian girl, Leah Sharibu, were in February 2018 abducted by armed groups.
In recent times, the kidnapping of young girls has almost become a national pastime, with hardly any week passing without reports of one school or community being invaded by members of the armed militant groups to take the children hostage.
In December 2020, more than 337 students of Islamiyya School in Katsina State were ambushed in Dandume Local Government and abducted
In February 2021, 42 students, most of them girls were also kidnapped from Government Science College in Kagara District of Niger state.
There are several other unreported incidents that have constituted a source of concern for many Nigerians even as the country celebrates the International Women’s Day.
What is known, however, is that the future of these young girls who could have grown to join efforts in developing the nation in whatever capacity they could was needlessly derailed and shattered forever.
Call of politicians, others to support girl-child
In its statement in Abuja on Monday, JADESeminars called on all those involved in shaping the future of Nigeria’s girl-child, namely families, politicians, political institutions, religious groups, and organisation among others, to see the education of the girl-child as not only the future of tomorrow, but also the support system to prepare her for leadership in a world. < The statement signed by the Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Angela Agoawike, and Secretary, Raheemat Momodu, the group said: "On February 15, 2021, Nigeria's Dr. Ngozi Okonjo lweala was appointed the Director General of the World Trade Organization, (WTO). "By that achievement, which was just one out of her many, Dr. Okonjo-lweala became not only the first African, but the first woman ever to lead the international trade body. "The appointment did not just happen, rather, Dr. Okonjo lweala, who was once a Nigerian girl-child, prepared for this position by breaking cultural norms, getting good education, and having the support system that enabled her to break free of the kind of stereotypes that have for long impeded women's quest for a seat at the decision-making table," JADESeminars said. From Ngozi Okonjo-lweala to Amina Mohammed, the fifth deputy secretary general of the United Nations, and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group; from the recently appointed Justice Akon lkpeme, Chief Judge of Cross River State to NnekaOnyeali-lkpe, managing director, Fidelity Bank Nigeria, the Group said these women have joined other women before them in demonstrating the height the Nigerian girl-child can attain given adequate preparation with quality education and support. Bridging the gender gap, the Group said should be seen as a form of good governance necessary for economic growth and development.