11 October 2015
The #BringBackOurGirls movement joins the global community in commemorating this year’s International Day of the Girl Child. The United Nations sets aside October 11 of every year as the IDGC through the adoption of Resolution 66/170 on December 19, 2011, with a view to recognizing and promoting girls’ rights, while highlighting the several challenges confronting girls across the world.
This year’s Day of the Girl, themed: The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030, provides another opportunity for the Government of Nigeria, through relevant institutions, to prioritize all efforts geared towards protecting the rights of Nigerian girl child, while investing in relevant actions needed for their empowerment.
Having advocated for the rescue of our 219 adolescent Chibok schoolgirls for 530 days today, after they were abducted 545 days ago, the #BringBackOurGirls movement wish to use this day to call for New Combat and Intelligence Strategies and Urgency towards the rescue of our Chibok Girls. Their continuous stay in abduction not only exposes them to the high possibility of radicalization, but also denies them access to a life that guarantees their wholesomeness and opportunity to be positive contributors to Nigeria’s developing economy. The prolonged unsuccessful Rescue of our Chibok Girls, and all other abductees, clearly continues to portray the breakdown in the social contract that binds citizens with their government.
While acknowledging and commending the Nigerian military for the improvements in the counterinsurgency operations, we commiserate with families of our fallen soldiers, especially the Children, who have been left bereaved so young. However, we wish to express deep concern at the recent heightened spate of attacks by the violent extremist group, Boko Haram, through the use of innocent and vulnerable young girls (and boys) as suicide bombers. These sad events have left several dead, countless injured, properties and communities destroyed, and thousands displaced. Of the numerous consequences of the festering insurgency is the lack of access to education by school-age children, who represent the largest base in the official figures that has sadly pushed Nigeria to the top of countries with the highest rate of out-of-school children in the world (most of whom are girls).
This day provides an opportunity to reiterate the need that adequate attention must be paid to the several issues affecting the realization of the full potentials of the Nigerian girl child who are constantly faced with issues ranging from exclusion or marginalization, discrimination, inequalities, trafficking, gender-based violence (sexual, physical, and mental), forced/early marriage, female genital mutilation, and, inadequate access to basic infrastructure and facilities; among others.
To this end, we call on the Federal Government of Nigeria, through its relevant institutions and agencies, to:
1. ensure prioritization and redoubling of military and non-military actions needed for the immediate rescue of our Chibok girls, all other girls and person in captivity;
2. execute plans necessary for the adequate security of all affected communities in the Northeast and the nation as a whole;
3. implement and promote policies, strategies, and actions that guarantees protection of girl child rights in Nigeria;
4. strengthen all institutions, with a view to providing an enabling environment for the advancement of girl child rights;
5. invest in Nigeria’s educational sector in order to increase the uptake of education by all school-age children, especially girls;
6. improve the living condition of adolescent girls, particularly those in rural communities, through the provision of basic infrastructure and amenities; and
7. provide opportunity and access, particularly, to the girl child in order to promote their civic engagement and participation, while building their capacity in preparation for possible leadership responsibilities.
We believe that Nigeria’s commitment to the above would not only enhance the nation’s commitment to relevant parts of the Sustainable Development Goals – especially Goals 4 and 5 (Quality Education and General Inequality respectively); it would also, in so doing, strategically reposition the country and place us enviably among nations who have prioritized the protection and advancement of girl child rights, while empowering them as positive contributors to the development of societies and nations.
For and on behalf of
HADIZA BALA USMAN