Schoolgirls’ abductions may result in unprepared tomorrow’s mothers – NAWOJ cries out

Participants at a conference of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalist (NAWOJ) on Thursday warned that incessant abductions of schoolgirls might make them unprepared tomorrow’s mothers and threaten Nigeria’s future.

A screen shot of a video showing a number of abducted Chibok schoolgirls

The conference was organised in Ikeja by the B Zone of NAWOJ led by Mrs Omobola Nowoola-Akingbehin.

It was the zone’s maiden annual conference.

The participants called on the federal and state governments to urgently keep all schools safe to stop attacks on education of girls and boys and protect their future and that of the country.

The conference had the theme: ‘Insecurity: The Girl-child as Endangered Specie’.

The President of NAWOJ, Mrs Ladi Bala, said at the occasion that governments must provide safe environments to encourage girl-child education at all levels.

“Education is the fundamental right of children especially girls but if the environment is unsafe, this cannot happen,” Bala said.

She also called on civil society organisations and all citizens of the country to support governments in protecting girl-child education.

“The girl-child/woman is the nurturer of life and it behooves on everyone to take the girl-child education more seriously.

“To have a better society, where there is development and where everyone should feel safe, we should take the education of the girl-child more seriously.

“It is a call to the government to keep our schools safe,” Bala said.

In her address of welcome, Nowoola-Akingbehin, Vice-President of NAWOJ, B Zone, said that insecurity had compounded age-long barriers to formal education of the Nigerian girl-child.

She listed the barriers to include early and forced marriage, systemic gender biases and inadequate infrastructure.

The NAWOJ vice-president added that sexual harassment by teachers, cultism, economic constraints and limiting culture had also stood against formal education of girls.

The choice of the theme for this maiden annual conference draws our attention to the importance of protecting the girl-child.

“Our aim is to sound that education of the girl-child is under siege.

“Our girls will continue bearing the worst brunt of insecurity ravaging our nation if nothing is done to quickly arrest this trend.

“The spate of regular school children abduction taking place is now alarmingly, threatening the survival of the girl-child.

“Massive violence and targeted attacks on education has kept a number of female children out of school,” Nowoola-Akingbehin said.

The President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr Chris Isiguzo, noted that the Federal Government was doing much to address insecurity but said that it should do more.

Isiguzo called on the citizens to join forces with governments to tackle insecurity.

”I challenge traditional rulers to rise to the occasion. These young people terrorising us come from communities,” he said.

The NUJ president called for constitutional roles for and allocations to traditional rulers to enable them to do better.

“When they are not empowered, it is a challenge,” he said.

The Chairman of NUJ, Lagos State Council, Mr Adeleye Ajayi, said there was the need to safeguard children’s right to education in spite security challenges.

“Around the world, attacks on children continue unabated as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: protection of children.

“A child’s right to education cannot be safeguarded in conflict zones without education being protected.

“In her journey through life, the girl-child undergoes a lot of harrowing experiences ranging from sexual harassment to early marriage and low level of education.

“Nigerian authorities need to live up their commitments and double efforts to provide a safe learning environment for children,” Ajayi said.

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