The United Nations System in Nigeria has called on the federal and states governments to make special efforts to protect the rights of the girl child, while marking the recent International Day of the Girl Child.
The UN system also met in Abuja this week to deliberate on an implementation Plan for Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children, which is being developed.
In recognition of the peculiar challenges facing the girl child, the UN General Assembly in a resolution on 19 December 2011, adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 every year as the International Day to be observed around the world. The theme for the 2012 Day was “Ending Child marriage”.
The recent inaugural International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges confronting girls and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their rights. The United Nations System in Nigeria, comprising of specialised agencies, funds and programmes, urged government and partners to focus on preventing child marriage, which is a human rights violation recognised by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Child Rights Act and impacts all aspects of a girl’s life.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Daouda Toure, in a statement noted that “Child marriage has adverse effects for the child and for society as a whole. Child marriage denies a girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk of violence and abuse, jeopardises her health and therefore constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and the development of resilient communities.
Globally, around one in three young women aged 20-24 years were first married before they reached age 18. One third of them entered into marriage before they turned 15. Child marriage results in early and unwanted pregnancies, posing life-threatening risks for girls. In developing countries, 90 per cent of births to adolescents aged 15-19 are to married girls, and pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls in this age group.
In a related development, the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children (the Commission) took on the challenge outlined in UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy of saving lives through improving equitable access to life saving commodities.
After months of deliberation, a finalised report with ten clear recommendations has been produced and was launched as part of the Every Woman, Every Child (EWEC) movement, on 26 September 2012.
Building on the 10 recommendations of the Commission’s Report across the 13 “overlooked” life-saving commodities, an Implementation Plan for Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children is being developed. This plan includes general actions which address all of the commodities.
Convening organisations and technical reference agencies or groups are stepping forward to play a critical role in the elaboration of the implementation plan for the 10 Recommendation. The implementation plan will include key milestones as well as provisional estimates of all associated additional costs for activities which will need to be carried out for the next three to five years.
In order to accelerate this process the Secretariat of the Commission and the Federal Government of Nigeria organised a meeting from October 14 to 16, in Abuja, Nigeria.
The meeting is expected to provide an important platform for advocacy for required policy changes; help outline the global and local market shaping actions; provide an opportunity for the sharing and scaling up of appropriate innovations and good practices; and provide the opportunity for the 10 recommendations and their respective implementation plans to be effectively nested to national priorities.
The meeting was expected to galvanise the recommendations and the proposed implementation plan and ensure effective monitoring of all the 10 Recommendations particularly at country level. The technical team from the countries invited are billed to meet during the meeting to discuss and review draft implementation plan and ensure relevance of suggested activities for their respective countries.
The participation included the following countries: Afghanistan, DRC, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Among the expected outcomes, the meeting is expected to endorse the 10 Recommendations by the high level participants; and consider suggestions about strategies and key activities for the achievement of country level aspects of the recommendations and implementation plan building upon the cross-cutting areas (market shaping, performance and accountability, and innovation).
It is also expected to examine the next steps and milestones defined and agreed upon to ensure effective monitoring of the implementation both at global and national levels.
The participants were asked to familiarise themselves with the UN Commission Draft Report; the UN Commission Draft Implementation Plan, and the UN Commission Draft Road Map.
The meeting was expected to be in two parts: a meeting of technical experts on the evening of 14th and the whole of the 15th of October, followed by a Ministerial Meeting on the 16th of October. The initial one and half days will provide the experts the opportunity to review the Commission’s recommendations and draft implementation plan and align these with their national priorities and realities.
Based on the input from the experts, the ministers and other high level officials are to provide the necessary endorsements and recommendations for further development of the implementation plan.
Representatives from Every Women Every Child (EWEC) countries and other developing countries (Ministers and Technical experts): Afghanistan, Ethiopia, DRC, Nigeria: Rwanda Tanzania: Uganda, Senegal and Sierra Leone.