IGD: Climate change is an all-encompassing crisis — SCI
By: Femi Mustapha
Save the Children International Nigeria emphasizes that climate change is an all-encompassing crisis, affecting communities in various ways, from livelihoods and the environment to health, safety, and education. Vulnerable communities, especially girls and young women, bear the brunt of its impacts.
This statement was issued in commemoration of the 2023 International Day of the Girl Child, with the theme “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership & Wellbeing.”
SCI points out that the consequences of climate change often disproportionately affect girls and women, who frequently shoulder caregiving and household responsibilities. Gender inequalities can perpetuate harmful practices such as child marriage, which restrict girls’ opportunities for education, development, and empowerment.
The global report titled “Girls at the center of the storm: Her planet, her future, her solutions,” released on the eve of IDG 2023 by Save the Children, reveals that around two-thirds of child marriages occur in regions with higher-than-average climate risks. Currently, an estimated 29.9 million adolescent girls live in the top 10 child-marriage-climate hotspot countries.
Several states in Nigeria have recently witnessed severe effects of climate change, including erosions, floods, landslides, extreme weather conditions, and drought, leading to displacement, school dropouts, and exposing girls to various forms of abuse.
For example, 12-year-old Falmata has faced trauma due to flooding on her way to school. She often misses school on rainy days because the gullies become impassable. This has a significant impact on her education.
Other girls, like 17-year-old Umma, have been forced into early child marriage due to the effects of climate change, which have made farming more challenging and have damaged their households and crops.
Rt. Hon. Madina Abdulkadir, Speaker of the Borno State Children Parliament and Girl Champion for Save the Children International Nigeria, highlights the vulnerability of girls in Nigeria to gender-based violence, poverty, child marriage, and other forms of violence due to climate change. She urges the government to empower and invest in girls to ensure their well-being and leadership, emphasizing that the rights of a girl child are of utmost importance.
Faton Krasniqi, Interim Country Director of Save the Children International Nigeria, emphasizes the importance of protecting the rights of the girl child and enabling her to reach her full potential through education and delayed marriage. Empowered girls can break the cycle of poverty and advocate for social change.
Save the Children International calls for the enforcement of laws that establish the appropriate age for marriage for both girls and boys, with no exceptions. They support policies that empower girls, protect their rights, and ensure equal access to quality education for all girls, focusing on retention and higher education opportunities. Sensitization and awareness campaigns focused on climate change are encouraged to challenge social norms that perpetuate early child marriage.
The active involvement of all sectors is crucial in recognizing and nurturing the leadership potential of girls within their communities, encompassing their full participation in governance, decision-making processes, leadership roles, and comprehensive care for their overall well-being.