ABUJA (Ministry of Women Affairs Report) – President Goodluck Jonathan has on Monday October 13, 2014 said that Government will persist in recognizing the valuable contributions of Nigerian women and girls in the development of the nation’s economy. He made this known in Abuja while speaking at the 2014 Women and Girls Summit with the theme: ‘Re-enforcing the Agenda for Girl-Child Education.’
Represented at the event by the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Zainab Maina, President Jonathan noted that no meaningful development could be achieved if the issue of girl-child education is not factored into national development processes. He also enlisted the support of all Nigerians towards promoting and protecting the interest of the girl-child in defiance to attacks on them through insurgency. He added that the event commemorated the International Girl-Child Day designated by the UN and marked on Oct. 11.
“Women and girls represent the heartbeat of any nation and in Nigeria, they constitute about 50 percent of the nation’s population. They hold the key to the untapped potentials of this great country,” he stated. He urged stakeholders in the public and private sectors to support the commemoration of the International Girl-Child Day as an annual event in Nigeria.
While reassuring Nigerian women of his determination to increase the number of women in governance, the President averred that the launching of ‘Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria’ (GWIN) and the women component of the ‘YouWin’ Programmes as well as the recently approved 60 percent of the N20billion Small and Medium Enterprises Fund by his administration were all geared towards ensuring that women and girls benefit maximally from the dividends of democracy.
Goodluck Jonathan further tasked Nigerians to resist every attempt by insurgents to threaten the country’s collective existence as a great nation; saying his administration is determined to end the scourge.
Declaring the Summit open, Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Jonathan said that the Chibok Girls abduction is a further demand for greater attention to be accorded to fulfilling some basic considerations when establishing schools for the girl-child such as location, protective fencing, the presence of adult overseers within the school premises and security, among others. Adding, these are required to make the environment conducive for learning.
Patience Jonathan disclosed that the World Bank has identified girls’ education as one of the effective ways of ending poverty in developing nations. ‘The impact and global recognition attained by child rights activists such as Malala, who was recently honoured with the Noble Peace Prize, she said could be attributed to education.
She stressed on the critical role which education plays in the development of the girl-child as well as its numerous advantages, indicating that the children of educated women are less likely to die before their first birthday; whilst the girls who receive education are less likely to contact HIV/AIDS and thus, less likely to pass it on to their children. “Educated women are less likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth or during the postnatal period. Increased education of girls also leads to the availability of female healthcare providers,” she observed.
The First Lady called for the institution of legislative policies on the rights of the girl-child to education as well as the establishment of more schools closer to homes with more women teachers.
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