IDG: KADSPAC harps on investing in the well-being of girls through social protection
By: Femi Mustapha
As Nigeria joined the international community to celebrate the International Day of the Girl (IDG) to acknowledge the importance, power, and potential of adolescent girls by encouraging the opening up of more opportunities for them, Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition (KADSPAC) has emphasized the importance of empowering girls, ensuring their rights, and breaking down the barriers that often stand in their way.
The Chairman of the Coalition, Jessica Bartholomew, asserted on the occasion of celebrating the 2023 International Day of the Girl Child.
Ms. Bartholomew said, “Girls are not just the future; they are the present. They are leaders, innovators, and change-makers in their own right.”
Speaking on the theme of the 2023 celebration, “Empowering Girls for a Brighter Tomorrow,” she opined that by investing in the education, health, and well-being of our girls through social protection and human capacity development, we are investing in a brighter future for all.
According to her, the importance of the girl child’s education cannot be overemphasized. She argued that equal educational opportunities must be given to the girl child for the country to achieve its aim of nation-building and national cohesion.
“In many parts of the country, including Kaduna State, girls continue to face numerous challenges. Gender inequality, discrimination, and violence persist, limiting their opportunities and potential. But today, we choose to focus on their resilience, determination, and limitless capabilities. Education is a powerful tool for transformation. When we educate a girl, we empower her to chart her course, make informed choices, and contribute to her community. By providing equal access to quality education, we ensure that every girl has the chance to unlock her full potential. Empowering girls beyond education alone means creating an environment where they feel safe, where their voices are heard, and where their dreams are supported. It means dismantling harmful stereotypes and biases that hinder their progress. It means nurturing their self-confidence and self-worth.
“Let us also acknowledge the importance of mentorship and role models. Girls need to see that there are no limits to what they can achieve. When they see successful women in various fields, they are inspired to reach for the stars. As we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, let us recommit ourselves to the cause of empowering girls. Together, we can ensure that they have the opportunities and resources to thrive and lead. Let us work towards a world where every girl, regardless of her background or circumstances, can dare to dream, achieve her aspirations, and be the change she wants to see.
“In closing, let us remember the words of Malala Yousafzai, a beacon of inspiration for girls everywhere: ‘Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.’ Today, let’s stand together to make a brighter tomorrow for all girls around the world,” she said.
It would be recalled that this year, at a time when the world is seeing a range of movements and actions to curtail girls’ and women’s rights and roll back progress on gender equality, particularly harsh impacts on girls. From maternal health care and parenting support for adolescent mothers to digital and life skills training; from comprehensive sexuality education to survivor support services and violence prevention programs, there is an urgent need for increased attention and resources in the key areas that enable girls to realize their rights and achieve their full potential.
It is therefore obvious that responding to girls’ calls for change, Kaduna State must move beyond reaffirming commitments and invest boldly in the action needed to make that change. When we pay attention, we see that already, many girls are championing solutions and change in their community.
Together with our government, KADSPAC envisions a world where girls have space to shape government policy and spending, to inform the rules and norms by which businesses should operate, and to direct the priorities for new research and innovations. These examples should not be novelties but the norm.
KADSPAC is a network of active civil society and media partners working collaboratively to strengthen transparency and accountability in the Social Protection system in Kaduna State.