As the Nigeria joins other countries in the continent to mark the Day of the African Child on June 16, attention is being turned on the dangers of child marriage which is on the increase in the country and how to end it 25 years after adoption of the Africa Children’s Charter
THE theme for this year’s celebration of the Day of the African Child, “25 Years after the Adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa, ‟ is timely. Child marriage is increasing in Nigeria. The Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS 4) 2011, shows that there is a five per cent increase in the number of girls married before age 15. It was 13 per cent in 2007 and MICS 2011 indicates it is now 18 per cent.
Child marriage denies children the attainment of their human rights as children. It erodes the child’s rights to life, good health, education and dignity. Studies link child marriage to maternal mortality, school drop-out, Virginal fistula (VVF) condition and malnutrition among others.
UNICEF believes that investments in girls’ education and getting more girls’ into school delays marriage and impacts the incidence of child marriage.
“Girls’ Education is vital because educated girls become better mothers, have fewer and healthier children and more empowered. An educated girl will have a better life, as will her family. Every additional year of schooling delays age at marriage,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria. UNICEF is helping the government address the challenge of ensuring all children especially girls have access to quality education
The Girls’ Education Project, funded by the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) and implemented by UNICEF, aims to get 1 million more girls into school by 2020, while at the same improving the quality of education. The project is helping to train female teachers through the female teachers’ service scheme and deploy them to rural areas, where the predominance of male teachers deters many parents from sending their girls to school.
Another intervention under this project is the conditional cash transfer scheme provides cash to girls to help defray some school-related costs like textbooks, uniforms and others. The project, aims to encourage parents to send their daughters to school. It is expected to reach more than 50, 000 girls this year in Sokoto and Niger States.
‘Getting girls into schooling, and remain in school is particularly important in a country where 10.5 million children are out of school, and more than 60 per cent of them are girls. It is a win for everybody and has an impact on child marriage,’ said Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.
— Jun 15, 2015 @ 19:40 GMT