The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, on Tuesday said that Federal Government would hold a National Girls Summit, to highlight the importance of the girl child to national development.
Alhassan said at a news briefing in Kaduna to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child that the summit, with the theme `Putting the Girl Child at the Heart of National Development,’ will come up in a few weeks.
“We hope that this all inclusive theme will pave way for us to achieve the 2016 global theme.”
She described the girl child as “the cycle of life” without which “life is instinct”.
The minister said that the administration would do everything possible to address the plight of Internally Displaced Girls including the abducted Chibok girls.
“The government shares in the plight of the girls, government stands with the parents of the Chibok girls and share in their pains.
“I want to assure the parents that the government is concerned about the girls’ wellbeing and will do everything to secure the freedom of our daughters, the Chibok girls.”
She stressed that the government had introduced various programmes to protect the girl child against abuse.
The minister also said the administration was pushing for the passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill currently before the National Assembly.
“I am happy to announce to you that the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill has scaled second reading.
“When finally passed into law, it will provide an enabling environment to realise our goal in protecting women and girls in Nigeria,” she said.
Alhassan said the administration was also engaged in other social protection programmes, including the Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme, which was “aimed at transferring money to poor parents who cannot afford to send their children to school especially the girl child.
“The grant given would be used to enrol the girl child so as to stop her from hawking.”
She said that the Federal Government had set aside N1.6 billion for the National Women Empowerment Fund, to assist rural women ease out of poverty and encouraged them to send their children to school.
The minister said that the federal government was also compiling data on women and the girl child, to facilitate planning for enhanced development.
“As we all know without data we cannot talk of milestone, without data our planning process will be defective, our policy goals will be defective, our implementation level will become affected as we would not have bench mark to work with,” she said.
Alhassan commended UNICEF, DFID, UN Women and other development partners for “ensuring that the girl child takes her rightful place in the scheme of affairs in the country.
“With concerted efforts and their support, remarkable progress has been made in advocating for the girl child.”
The International Day of the Girl Child was declared by the United Nations in 2012, but was first observed in Nigeria in 2014.
This year’s theme is “Girls Progress=Goals process: A Global Girl Data Movement.”