Unity Bank Plc has called for increased investment in girlchild education in Nigeria to bridge the gender gap and reduce inequality.
Tomi Somefun, managing director of the bank who made the remark in her message on this year’s International Women’s Day said every effort to reduce inequality must be rooted in the education of the girl-child, adding that education remains the most potent approach to empowering women to take a bold step that will challenge the status quo and make a mark in society.
International Women’s Day is a global day set aside to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender equality.
This year’s International Women’s Day is being commemorated with the theme: #Choosetochallenge; and it is to reflect the imperative of collective action to challenge the status quo and inspire change.
In a statement, Somefun said, “Although female school enrolment has improved over the past decade in Nigeria, female adult literacy rate still lags at 59 percent. In some parts of the country, millions of girls still have little access to education resulting in a rampant increase in child marriages”.
Citing a recent UNICEF report on the impact of COVID-19, she stated that “over 10 million girls are at risk of becoming child brides. This is due to the fact that many have lost their parents while others have lost their means of livelihood and can no longer support girl child education. Here in our society, our own case is worsened by the current security situation in the country which is making it difficult for the girl child to remain in school.”
“History has taught us that where women have made tremendous progress, it was because there was a deliberate plan to increase investment in education and special attention on educating the girl child,” she said.
“For us in Nigeria, such investment should not just end at raising budgetary provisions for the education sector but must include making sure that girls are kept safe and protected while in school.”
This year’s #Choosetochallenge theme underpins global consciousness to choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality.
The organisers say gender parity in government, workplaces, health care, sports, and media coverage is achievable through individual change. They hope the theme will inspire individuals to challenge biases, question stereotypes, and celebrate the achievements of women around the world.