Activities marking the International Day of the Girl Child took the centre stage in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital as several non-governmental organisations (NGO) rolled out programmes to draw attention to the plight of the girl child and made pledges to empower them.
Such issues as child marriages, limited learning opportunities, violence, and discrimination as well as menstrual health were given attention during the celebration of the IDGC in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
Attended by top dignitaries including two members of the Akwa Ibom State executive council, Ini Adiakpan, commissioner for Women Affairs and Ini Ememobong, commissioner for Information and representatives of development partners, the event featured a public lecture, advocacy for the right of the girl child, education and supporting girls leadership as well as amplifying the voices of the girl child.
Speaking, Adiakpan said though it was not ‘uhuru’ for the girl child, laudable steps have been taken by the state government to protect the girl child, including the implementation of free education and plans to provide free school uniform to all students and pupils in the state.
According to her, the state government has also domesticated the Child Rights Act which she said has given protection to all children irrespective of sex adding that the Act has protected the girl child from abuses as it has spelt out adequate sanctions for offenders.
She urged the girl child to take education seriously so she could realise her full potential and be counted among key decision makers in the society while also urging them to resist peer pressure, avoid cultism and advised them to have proper menstrual health.
“The state government is providing school uniforms to all students, it is also implementing free and compulsory education and building model schools in the state, the Child Rights Act has already been domesticated in the state,” she said.
Ememobong, who was represented, said the girl child has the right to be heard, right to education, a place in the society and the right to self-confidence and self worth.
In his remarks, the coordinator of Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Ekemini Essien said the organisation was committed to supporting the girl child to enable her amplify her voice in the society and to take her rightful position as they could become the future leaders in the society.
Essien, who announced the donation of sanitary towels to the students who were drawn from Aka Community Secondary School in Uyo, the state capital, where the ceremony was held, pledged that the organisation would continue to empower young girls in the state.
There was also a lecture on the overview of comprehensive sexuality education and menstrual health management which highlighted best practices in menstrual hygiene.
The International Day of the Girl Child is marked on October 11th and this year’s theme, ‘Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership & Wellbeing’ aims to address global challenges girls face.