To mark the International Day of the Girl-Child, which was commemorated worldwide on Friday, a coalition — The Girl Force Movement — has been formed to fight for and advance the welfare and rights of the girl-child in Nigeria.
The new coalition comprised a number of associations which include Queen’s College Old Girls Association( QCOGA), Unity Schools Old Students Association including the Federal Government College Warri Old Students Association (FEGOCOWOSA), the International Women’s Society Nigeria, the Centre for Advancement & Development Rights(CEADAR), Women in Successful Careers(WISCAR), CeceYara Foundation, MTN Foundation, Airtel Nigeria, and Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).
The movement was launched at a press conference in Lagos on Friday.
Present at the launch were QCOGA’s Executives led by Ifueko Omogui Okauru; Mrs Fabia Ogunmekan of FEGOCOWOSA; Executive Secretary, Women in Successful Careers(WISCAR), Joy Nqwakwe; Executive Director, Centre for Advancement & Development Rights, students, journalists and other dignitaries.
Addressing the conference, Mrs Omoigui, President of Queen’s College Old Girls Association(QCOGA), said the initiative is a coalition movement that respects, encourages and enables the girl-child to have opportunities to achieve their dreams without any hindrance.
“Our reach is global,” Mrs Okauru said. “We plan to attract other alumni bodies (women and men), and organizations to join us on this journey.
“Our goal is to use this movement to build a pipeline of women leaders that will drive the political, economic and social landscape in the community of their choice, with self confidence and pride in whatever they choose to do. In driving the landscape, women will be at the table, equitably making decisions that drive improved quality of life for all.
“This platform will be a catalyst for change and will provide annual feedback on progress made, using data gathered as an instrument of advocacy.
She further said the focus of the movement is on children up to secondary school level. She lamented the rise in sexual abuse of the girl-child and urged key stakeholders to raise their voices to address the issues.
“With the increased cases of rape, sexual harassment, defilement and molestation in our society, and the recently uncoveed ”Sex Fo Grades” by university lecturers by the BBC, the way women are being treated in the society is a far cry from where we should be and also what makes society even better than where it should be.
“There is a clear need for men and women to have a visible voice in addressing these issues in our society.”
The Executive Secretary of WISCAR spoke about the achievement of her organization in supporting girl education in Nigeria.
“Our focus is helping to provide for these girls in their senior year to shape their thoughts around careers and also developing even their understanding beyond normal education that there is a role to play for enterprise and vocational studies.”
“In the last one year partnering with Access Bank and ATB Foundation, we have been able to roll out our programme to six schools in Lagos state (private and public) and have reached over 540 girls as we speak.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to contribute our learnings to this new movement, Girl Child Project and just essentially establishing the fact that beyond normal education there is a role for mentorship and we all have a role to play of mentoring from the home and through the teachers while these young girls are growing up.
Also addressing the conference, Mrs Nqwakwe of the Centre for Advancement & Development Rights, expressed readiness to work with the new movement.
She identified traditional socialization as a hindrance towards the success of a girl-child and urged parents and guardians to expose their wards to what will make them become successful.