President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday told a UN high-level meeting commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women that Nigeria is witnessing an increase in girls’ enrolment and retention in schools,
Speaking through a video message to the virtual meeting, convened by President of the UN General Assembly 75th session, Volkan Bozkir, in New York, he attributed the success to the implementation of the Universal Basic Education Programme, Girl Education Project and Safe School Initiatives.
A statement issued by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity) in Abuja quoted the president as saying: “Our Government is vigorously implementing the Universal Basic Education Programme, which enhances girl-child education at the grassroots.
“Furthermore, the Girl Education Project has contributed to the marked increase in girls’ enrolment and retention in schools as well as guaranteed full productive capacity for future generations of women.
“To ensure the security of school children, especially girls in the North-East of Nigeria, we have ratified the ‘Safe School Declaration’ and begun the implementation of our Safe School Initiatives across the country.”
The President noted with satisfaction that through the Safe School programmes, his administration had ensured improved security through the provision of necessary learning materials for educational institutions.
On combating gender-based violence, the President told the gathering in which Head of States and Government participated that awareness on a Sex Offenders Register was on-going to discourage and better manage cases of violence against women.
He added: “We are also expanding existing temporary shelters and building new ones in locations where they do not exist, to cater for victims of abuse and provide them with needed rehabilitation.
“In our quest to address the menace of trafficking of our women and girls, Nigeria is working in close collaboration with relevant partners, to rescue, rehabilitate and re-settle rescued victims of trafficking.”
To mitigate the socio-economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, President Buhari disclosed that Nigeria prioritized vulnerable groups, including women, in the provision of medical and social assistance.
Speaking further, Buhari stated: “In the last year, over one million Nigerians have been enrolled into National Social Register of poor and vulnerable households to enable them to access needed social assistance.
“Under the National Social Investment Programme, we have commenced cash transfers and distribution of food items to individuals and families across all States in Nigeria as palliatives to cushion the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Our administration believes that the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms are critical to the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
“It is for this reason that I urge the international community to support the mandate and operations of the Human Rights Council in its quest to strengthen institutions in relation to gender equality and empowerment, as well as elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.”
President Buhari urged Member States to develop additional strategies to improve the quality of life for women and girls, pledging that Nigeria would redouble efforts to improve access to productive resources for women and girls as well as continue to ensure the protection of fundamental rights.
“Our administration is mindful of the necessity to empower women and girls for the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the African Union Agenda 2063; as well as the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action,” he said.
The President also used the occasion to congratulate Member States on the giant strides achieved in the implementation of the outcomes of the 4th World Conference on Women over the last two decades.
He noted that the twelve areas of critical concern identified in the Beijing Platform of Action, 25 years ago, have been instrumental in the progress so far recorded in advancing issues of women and girls globally.
He, however, stressed that sustainable development would remain impossible if women and girls are denied human rights.
The president opined: ”Nigeria acknowledges that the achievement of full human potential and sustainable development is impossible if women and girls are denied their human rights and opportunities.
“Since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration, Nigeria has made concerted efforts to ensure women’s participation in all aspects of nation-building, through quality education, access to economic resources, as well as promotion of leadership roles at all levels.
“Our administration remains committed to eradicating poverty and enhancing growth and development for women and girls. In order to address all forms of gender-based poverty, we have initiated programmes such as: Tradermoni, Marketmoni and Farmersmoni under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme.
“These programmes are particularly aimed at providing zero interest and collateral-free credits to petty traders, artisans and farmers, many of whom are women and girls.”