The Nigerian government has been urged to develop policies that would give girls and women more opportunities for empowerment.
At an event to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child in Abuja, stakeholders expressed concerns that the Nigerian girl child still faces many barriers that limit them from securing their future or contributing meaningfully to the country’s development.
They also expressed worry that female unemployment rates are alarmingly high in the country and a dearth of decent jobs and sustainable economic opportunities is pushing millions into the depths of extreme and multidimensional poverty.
Speaking at the event organised by ONE Campaign, an advocacy group, Stanley Achonu, Nigeria’s Country Director of the organisation said issues of gender inequality, limited access to education, early marriages, and the grim reality of gender-based violence persist.
He also decried that women face difficulties accessing financing for their businesses because the system considers them high-risks
According to him, addressing these challenges would require deliberate action by the Nigerian government such as increasing investment in women and creating policies that would create job opportunities for women.
Achonu stressed that the focus on preparing young girls for the future through job readiness and skill acquisition is crucial, especially in a country like Nigeria.
“The theme for this year’s event, ‘Our time is now, our rights, our future,’ is a resounding call to action. It reminds us that the future rests squarely in the hands of these young ones. In securing a brighter future for them, we cannot underestimate the pivotal role of economic opportunities.
“The jobs they aspire to and the skills they need to excel in them must be at the forefront of our efforts. We must prepare them for a future where they are economically self-sufficient and equipped to contribute meaningfully to the development of our society. In today’s rapidly evolving world, young girls must be well-informed about the many career options and economic prospects available to them”, he said.
Also speaking, Richardson Ojeka, the chief executive officer, Africado Foundation, said: “When girls are empowered, they not only stay empowered, but they in turn empower the generations that come from them and the communities they belong to.”