We need to educate the girl child to build a better Nigerian society.
Today is the International Day of the Girl, a day set aside by the United Nations Organization.
The day is meant to "highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights."
This year's theme is "EmPOWER girls: Before, during and after conflict." This theme resonates with Nigeria as the scourge of Boko Haram has stopped children from going to school.
The numbers are plain scary if you look at them. There are 10.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria making it the highest in the world. According to UNICEF, 60% of these children are from Northern Nigeria. And 60% of these kids are girls.
The emergence of Boko Haram has discouraged many parents from taking their kids to go school for the fear of being killed.
"Boko Haram doesn't like western education if you go they bomb you or slaughter you," says Bintu, a 12-year-old groundnut hawker in Maiduguri, Borno.
In an article written by Mercy Abang as part of the 2017 BudgIT Media Fellowship, Bintu speaks on how Boko Haram has stopped kids from going to school.
"UNICEF estimates that nearly one million school-aged children like Bintu, have been forced to leave their homes and communities as a result of the ongoing violence" reads the article.
It is now more important than ever to educate the girl child. Women are the bedrock of any society and properly educated girls will grow to become well-informed women and eventually mothers.
Without proper education, the girl child cannot make informed decisions about her future, her career and her goals. There are many sexist beliefs and traditions in Nigerian culture. Giving our girls the right education will eradicate these restrictive beliefs and much more.
Gender equality is a goal that can be gotten to faster with education. Women who didn't go to school most likely believe that they are below men. Education plays a primary role in ensuring that women are seen as equals and not servants.
While Nigeria has produced world famous women such as Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Chimamanda Adichie and others, a lot still has to be done that every girl child in Nigeria has a chance at fulfilling her dreams.
Nigerian girls from a small age ought to know about self-esteem and confidence. They should be taught that their dreams are valid and nothing can stop them. They should be made to know that they are unique, beautiful and important.
On a day like this, it is important to stress that without the proper education of the girl child, Nigeria would be lost.
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