El-Rufai to Initiate Policies to Protect, Empower Teenage Girls

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By John Shiklam in Kaduna

The Kaduna State Government is to evolve policies aimed at protecting and ensuring that teenage girls attained their full potentials .

The state Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, disclosed this in a statement to mark the 2016 World Population Day today with the theme “Investing in Teenage Girls.”

According to him, teenagers are living the transition from childhood to early adulthood, stressing the need for increased investments in health and education to benefit them.

The governor noted that teenage girls often face more challenges than their male counterparts, especially in the northern part of the country, maintaining that policies and massive investments in education and health would empower them and create economic conditions that lead to job creation.

The governor disclosed further that a recent survey conducted in the state revealed that there were about 900,000 girls within the age bracket of 10-19, a figure, which according to him, is expected to reach 1,009,570 by 2020.

“Given a projection of 3.18 per cent annual growth rate, Kaduna State will have 1,380,676 girls in this age-band by the year 2030.

“There is absolutely the urgent need to invest in this fast growing population to give our State economic balance and to provide better opportunities for sustainable development,” the governor said.

He said: “It is in recognition of this that the present administration has ensured that issues concerning teenage girls are adequately captured in the State Development Plan (SDP).”

El-Rufai said the state government, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other development partners were

working tirelessly towards promoting and protecting the rights of teenage girls and supporting them to determine their own destinies.

“This administration, under my leadership, upholds the universal right of all persons, including teenage girls, to education, health and freedom from violence.

“Communities, non-governmental organisations, youth-led groups, activists, faith-based institutions and girls themselves also have a vital role to play in shaping policies that affect their lives and in making sure that these policies are translated into real, positive transformation,” the governor said.

‎”In many parts of Nigeria, particularly in the North, a girl who reaches puberty may be deemed by her family and community as ready for marriage, pregnancy and childbirth. She could be married off and forced to leave school.

“She may suffer a debilitating condition from delivering a child before her body is ready for it. She may confront human rights issues, and serious health concerns.

“Without education, in poor health, and with little or no control over her own body, her future can be derailed, and her potential may never be realised.

“The challenges and obstacles faced by a teenage girl tend to multiply if she is a member of an ethnic minority, lives in a village or is from a poor household,” the governor noted.