Kalu Decries Neglect of Girl Child Education, Gender-based Violence
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has expressed concern over the rising number of uneducated girl-child and incidence of Sexual Gender-Based Violence against girls in Nigeria.
Kalu expressed the concerns on Thursday when he received a delegation from the Female Student Vanguard for Girl Child Education in Nigeria from Kano State who paid him a courtesy visit his office at the National Assembly complex Abuja.
He observed that the issues if not tackled will have negative consequences on the child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Kalu further lamented that legal instruments and several policies formulated to address gender inequality in education have not been implemented well enough to yield the desired results.
The Deputy Speaker therefore called for the establishment of more schools in rural areas to reduce the exposure of girls to social violence especially rape.
He said: “The long distances girls have to travel to school, expose them to gender based violence, including sexual harassment like you mentioned such as rape. The closer we bring the schools to the communities the better. Within every 5 kilometres there should be a school. So that girls in the rural areas will not be exposed to this violence”.
Kalu noted that the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu led administration is committed to addressing challenges militating against girl-child education and gender empowerment.
While thanking the advocacy group for honouring him with an icon of exemplary leadership award, the Deputy Speaker pledged to adopt the Female Students Vanguard for Girl Child education as one of his pet projects.
“Talking about girl child education, education, it’s a fundamental right, an important tool for empowerment and development of any nation. In Nigeria, gender inequality in education remains a major concern, I appreciate you for taking up this advocacy to provide a solution, I’m proud of you people. Many don’t know what girls go through. Many comfortable girls or women don’t know what indigent girls go through in the rural areas. For you to set out to be their voices to make sure their basic needs are met, you’re champions in my eyes. It’s not only happening in the North, it’s happening in the South and every other parts of the country. It ought not to be so, we need to take steps towards reducing the percentage. Boko Haram abduction of school girls from Chibok in Borno State in 2014 sent shock waves around the world, we are yet to recover from the shock.
“There’s hope that the current administration will right the wrongs of past administrations in regards to the girl child. I am sure very soon the percentage will reduce from what it is now to a manageable percentage. There will be steps to show that considerately policies are in place even as we promise as a parliament to use the instrument of our legislative interventions. We shall join our voice with yours, we will join our resources with your resources to make it more accessible for girls around the country. We call on you to also extend the reach to other parts of the country aside the north. Around the whole country such needs you highlighted that needs to be taken care of.
“Girls are the mothers of tomorrow and education is an essential part of their lives. We need the male and female gender for us to develop the nation. I pledge that for the four years I’m going to be here by the grace of God as the Deputy Speaker, I’m going to adopt Female Students Vanguard for girl Child education as one of my pet projects. My office will partner with you and my foundation known as the Benjamin Kalu Foundation, to make sure that it’s a little easier for you”, Kalu said.
Earlier, the group led by its President Khadijat Suleiman told the Deputy Speaker that the purpose of the visit is to congratulate him on his well deserved emergence as Deputy Speaker and to solicit his support for their advocacy.
They expressed optimism that with the help of compassionate individuals like Kalu, their objective of reducing women illiteracy in Nigeria by getting more girls into school will be achieved.
“We have been following your track record, the role you played in carrying everyone along in your policy making, irrespective of gender, cultural background or faith. So we are here also to present you the female student instrument of commendation as an icon of exemplary leadership. You represent the very best, you’re polite, simple, straightforward, confident, intelligent, an outstanding figure and an efficient team player,” the group added