By Islaha Muhammad
Statistics show that more than half of the 10.5 million children out of school in Nigeria are girls. These girls face hinderances and barriers that draw a wide margin between them and education like poverty, distance, forced marriages and lack of exposure due to traditional/cultural norms and other stereotypes that see women primarily as wives and mothers with the belief that they should not be included in other aspects of human development and career path. These girls are out on the streets hawking, becoming domestic staff, doing menial jobs and getting raped, molested and assaulted on a daily basis while being deprived of some of their fundamental human rights. In 2012, the International day of the girl child was established and since then it has contributed to the creation of awareness and showcasing the importance of the empowerment and education of girls and women in Nigeria and other countries as well.
Girl child empowerment and education means to empower and uplift women in all areas with quality education, skills acquisition, mentorship programs, interactive learning sessions, health care education and other activities. It also means the transition from illiteracy to literacy through the process of a formal educational system that can be taught through westernized education or through the religious educational system and life orientation as a whole. It is creating a strong foundation for women to be able to thrive in different sectors of life,decide what they want to do without any inferiority complex while having confidence and provision of a room for women to participate in development activities in their communities and surroundings to foster positive change. By taking actions on the above measures, the girl child will be safe.
Truly, ”if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” Women impact a lot on others starting from the family unit to the community and society in all, and with girl child education and empowerment, the society will thrive better and awareness will grow and become normalized.
Islaha Muhammad Sai’d is student of Mass Communication at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria