United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, has urged Nigeria to pace up girl child education in the country to foreclose the risk of turning down growth and development resulting from segregation of an important segment of the population.
Kerry, who said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is presently committing $10 million to help women in Nigeria make the right choices, said no nation can be lifted to its full potential without engaging its entire population.
At a meeting with Non-Government Organisations in charge of girl child education and protection at the US Embassy in Abuja, he said too many young women in Nigeria are out of school and forced into different kinds of circumstances which must be changed through a gradual but steady progress.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) had last week
advised the Federal and State Governments in Nigeria to pay more attention to implementing laws that protect the rights of the girl child in the society, rather than creating new ones that will mortgage their future.
Country Representative of UNFPA in Nigeria, Ratidzai Ndhlovu, gave the advice at the official launch of the Adolescent Girls Initiative organised by UNFPA in collaboration with the Kaduna State government, where she noted that providing women and girls with equal access to education, is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a prosperous and sustainable nation.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, said the ministry will soon launch a campaign against early child marriage and child abuse to sensitize traditional and religious rulers across the country on the dangers of giving out their girls out early in marriage without giving them the necessary education or skills.
According to a report released by UNFPA, the northern region has the highest rate of female illiteracy in Nigeria, and also accounts for negative health outcomes which include the highest maternal mortality and infant mortality ratio.
For instance, the number of girls without education in Sokoto State stands at 78.5 per cent followed by Kebbi State with 75 per cent, while that of Kaduna is 40.3 percent.