“When girls are given the opportunity to thrive, not only do their lives change but so do their communities”
FIDA Nigeria solemnly reflects on the theme of the 2023 International Day of the Girl-Child, “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being”. This resonates profoundly as it underscores the harsh realities faced by too many girls globally. It is a stark reminder of the countless girls who grapple with daily violations of their rights worldwide, stifled leadership potentials, and extremely precarious well-being. Overt discrimination, violence, exploitation, still persists, robbing them of the chance to blossom into their full potential. In a world which is meant to nurture their dreams and aspirations, countless girls instead suffer in silence, their pleas for help often going unheard and unanswered.
In Nigeria, safeguarding the rights of the girl-child remains an uphill battle. Despite existing laws aimed at protecting these rights, numerous girls still face countless barriers such as lack of access to education, early and forced marriages, gender discrimination, and indeed abuse and heightened violence in various forms. The gap between legislative promise and stark reality continues to widen, casting a dark shadow over the futures of these vulnerable young lives.
Sadly, as the call for increased access to education and other opportunities for the girl-child is reaching a crescendo, there has been relentless attacks on the future of the girl-child through series of abductions and kidnappings. These have become rife and somewhat of a daily occurrence. Just recently, on the 22nd of September 2023, a large number of armed bandits invaded the hotels of undergraduates of the Federal University Gusau, Zamfara state and abducted an unspecified number of female students! Such ugly and disastrous occurrences have become one too many.
How do we advocate for the future of the girl-child and the need for qualitative education so she can fully achieve her potential, meanwhile barbarians masquerading under the garb of terror, continue to shatter these dreams and obliterate the future of these girls via unchallenged kidnappings carried out with impunity at schools and institutions of learning across the Nation.
This cannot be allowed to continue!
An investment in the girl-child has tremendous impact on any society, as an empowered and educated woman has the power to educate the whole family and indeed change the trajectory of nation-building! Success stories of Nigerian girls who were invested into, with respect to education and given the right enabling environment to positively impact their generation, abound. Girls like 13-year-old Nigerian-born Emmanuella Mayaki who was the youngest person to be accepted into a university in the United States of America having achieved excellent proficiency in Microsoft programs at age 7, or 16-year-old Esther Okade, a Nigerian-British genius who bagged her Ph.D. in Financial mathematics and had enrolled into a UK university at age 10, and Folafoluwa Oginni who won best student in WAEC at age 17 and became British University’s first Nigerian Valedictorian. These few examples are a clear testament to the tremendous potential embedded in the girl-child if properly harnessed. These girls grow up to become women like Hon. Justice Aloma Muktar. JSC (first female Chief Justice of Nigeria), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Director-General of the World Trade Centre), Amina Mohammed (Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations) to mention but a few.
FIDA Nigeria is making this urgent CALL TO ACTION for increased protection of the girl-child and calls on the Federal Government, all Security and Law Enforcement Bodies to confront head-on, the hydra headed scourge of terror, impoverishment, marginalization and disenfranchisement facing the girl-child. Government must lead the charge and move beyond rhetoric and speeches or half-hearted commitments and begin to take BOLD AND DICISIVE ACTIONS that will bring about needed changes. Civil Society organizations, Public and Private sectors, stakeholders and in truth all well-meaning individuals need to lend their voices to bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality.
FIDA Nigeria will continue to be a voice for the voiceless and stand as a beacon of hope for every girl. Despite formidable challenges, we remain resolute in our commitment to protect, promote and preserve the rights women and children. We shall continue to navigate legal complexities towards seeking redress and restitution for those who have suffered in silence as we envisage a world where the girl-child is an agent of change, free from terror and discrimination and allowed to soar to her fullest potential!
Together we must ensure that the girl-child enjoys the rights, leadership opportunities, and overall well-being that she rightfully deserves.
Amina Suzanah Agbaje, (Mrs.)
Country Vice President/National President
FIDA Nigeria organized a dynamic Capacity Building Workshop that united 25 impassioned Community Representatives from Delta, Bayelsa, and Edo States in Southern Nigeria.
This workshop wasn’t just a gathering—it was a catalyst for rapid, effective action against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and the scourge of Child, Early, and Forced Marriage (CEFM). The focus? Crafting seamless, tried-and-true referral pathways that deliver unwavering support to survivors.
It was a day of empowerment, where Community Paralegals were armed with the tools, skills, and knowledge to confidently tackle issues of SGBV and CEFM, harnessing established referral networks. And it didn’t stop there. This gathering sought to bolster the capabilities of these paralegals, fortifying their ability to construct transparent pathways, ensuring swift and all-encompassing aid for victims and survivors of SGBV and CEFM, who have faced unspeakable violations of their rights.
The driving force behind this monumental event? A collaboration between the indomitable Palladium and FIDA Nigeria, fueled by the unwavering support of the USAID-funded SCALE project.