As the world celebrates 2019 International Day for the Girl Child, the Ebonyi State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and other stakeholders have charged the female children to speak up against all forms of assault on them.
The 2019 Ebonyi celebration of the girl child with the theme: ‘Girl force, unscripted and unstoppable’ was organized by the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in collaboration with state partners and support from UNICEF.
The State Coordinator, Child Protection Network, Chief Mrs. Flora Egwu, gave the charge at Izhia Girls Secondary School in Ohaukwu Local Government Area during the celebration in Ebonyi State.
She reminded the girls about their rights to say NO to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other forms of inhuman treatment as their lives are unscripted and unstoppable.
Chief Egwu enjoined parents to be friendly with their children and reduce their high quest for wealth and fame but spend more time with their children to guarantee proper upbringing and better society.
“Nearly 25 years ago, some 30,000 women and men from nearly 200 countries arrived in Beijing, China for the Fourth World Conference on Women, determined to recognize the rights of women and girls. The conference culminated in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for action: the most comprehensive policy agenda for the empowerment of women. In the years following, women pressed this agenda forward, leading global movements on issues ranging from sexual and reproductive health rights to equal pay.
“Today, these movements have expanded. They are being organized by and for adolescent girls, and tackling issues like female genital mutilation, child marriage, education inequality, gender-based violence, climate change, self-esteem, and girls’ rights to enter places of worship or public spaces during menstruation. Girls are proving they are unscripted and unstoppable.
“Every year on 11 October, the International Day For The Girl Child, concerned stakeholders, government, UNICEF work with girls to amplify their voices and stand up for their rights. This year’s theme, ‘Girl force, unscripted and unstoppable’, we are celebrating achievements by, with and for girls since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for action.
“In nearly 25 years, we have seen more girls move from dreaming to achieving. More girls today are attending and completing school, fewer are getting married or becoming mothers while still children and more are gaining the skills they need to excel in the future world of work. Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalized communities. As entrepreneurs, innovators and initiators of global movements, girls are creating a world that is relevant for them and future generations.
“Today, in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state, we are specifically using this year’s celebration to wage further war against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), to remind the girls that their destinies are in their hands. We are in Izhia Girls’ Secondary School today to assure them that their lives are unscripted and unstoppable and enjoin them to always speak up.
Parents on their parts should reduce the high quest for wealth and fame but devote more time to the upbringing of their children. They should know their children’s peers, actions and activities.
Speaking with a partner and Magistrate in Ebonyi State Judiciary, His Worship Ngozika Ngele, she said womanhood is not a disability and they should not give room for assaults
His Worship, Ngele said, “Womanhood is not a disability, don’t give room for assaults! As we celebrate our girls today, government, corporate bodies, parents, individuals, stakeholders in all spheres of life as well as the global community are called upon to ensure the following are achieved: to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls, eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls especially FGM, Promote and protect the rights of girls and increase awareness of their needs and potentials and eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development, and training.
“Other areas of intervention are: eliminate discrimination against girls in health and nutrition, eliminate the economic exploitation of child labour and protect young girls at work, eradicate all forms of violence against girls, promote girls’ awareness of and participation in social, economic and political life as well as strengthen the role of the family in improving the status of girls.
“The International Day of the Girl 2019 is an annual effort to bring together partners and stakeholders to mark progress on the Beijing Declaration and to equip girls with the power, knowledge, and space to continue to voice their passions and concerns. The progress since the Beijing Declaration is remarkable, but girls around the world – especially those living in rural areas or humanitarian settings and those with disabilities – still need us to stand with them to achieve their full potentials. As we come together to celebrate our progress, let’s work to reinforce girls’ rights to a safe childhood.
“Since our celebration, today in the state is centered on eradicating FGM you have to know that FGM is illegal and banned in Ebonyi state by the Violence Against Persons(Prohibition) law 2018. It is illegal to help, support or arrange for FGM to be performed on a girl in the state.
“Penalty for offenders is a fine of N300,000 to N500,000, 3 to 5 years jail or even both. If a girl child decides to undergo FGM, anyone who helps her will be prosecuted since she cannot give consent. We advise the girls to report any form of assault on them to their school authorities, police, a federation of women lawyers, Human right commission, Ebonyi state ministry of women affairs, ministry of health among other partners for prompt actions”.
On their parts, the state UNICEF Desk officer Mr. Emmanuel Nkwuda and head of department Child Care and Protection in Ebonyi state ministry of women affairs, Mr. Godwin Igwe charged the girls not to give rooms for assault but voice out, report to stakeholders to ensure that FGM is totally eradicated in Ebonyi state.
They called on the girls to be champions against Female Genital Mutilation to ensure a better society because the inhuman practice has caused more harm than good to families and womanhood in general.
Reacting, two students of the school, Miss Egbe Florence, the Deputy senior prefect, and Miss Alieze Ifeoma, the Chaplain prefect on behalf of the students thanked the organizers for the eye-opening speeches and pledged to spread the message.