The Nigeria Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Aisha Abubakar has said that educating the girl-child is an import enterprise in order for ECOWAS governments to eradicate girl-child marriage. She said this at the Interactive Dialogue among Ministers of Gender Affairs of the ECOWAS sub-region which took place at the Sideline meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63), United Nations Headquarters, New York, 14th March, 2019.
The Minister who referred to a report titled “Mapping of Early Marriage in West Africa: A Study of Trends, Interventions, Effective Methods, Best Practices and the Way Forward”, said that 49 percent of our girls below ages 18 are at risk of child marriage, adding that the statistics show that Nigeria ranks number eleven in the world on the incidences of child marriage.
The Minister said that the consequences of girl-child marriage are grave to the victim in particular and the world in general. She explained that the girl-child marriage impairs the education, health, economic and socio-political development of the married girl-child.
She stated that said that it is in the realization of this that Nigeria has taken a number of measures to reduce the prevalence of girl-child marriage and that some of the measures taken include; the enactment of laws aimed at confronting all incidences of girl-child marriage, that is in line with the African Union Charter on the Right and Welfare of the Child.
While still speaking she said that the Nigerian government has inaugurated both the National Joint Task Force for the Prevention of Child Abuse and also the National Steering Committee on the Implementation of the National Action Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1320 as an effort to eliminating all forms of abuse on women and children. ” The government has also developed the National Priority Agenda (NPA) to facilitate, ensure and provide succor for women, girls and vulnerable persons, adding that 66 percent of people living in the ECOWAS sub-region are 25 years and below, this means that ECOWAS has the youngest population in the world”.
She added that the population of persons living in Europe and America is much older and this goes to show that ECOWAS sub-region has the largest reservoir of needed human resources in the world but this potential is threatened by the incidences of girl-child marriage.
The Minister therefore called on the International Community to support the people and governments of the ECOWAS sub-region in educating and training children.