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Nigeria losses  $8.9m annually due to Violence, child marriage-UNICEF

Some panelists at the event

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Chief Child Protection Officer, Mr. Ibrahim Sese says Nigeria losses 8.9 billon dollars annually over issues of violence, child marriage  and harmful practices affecting women and girls.

He stated this in Abuja during the official launch and dissemination of “The state of the Nigerian Girl Report”: The Diagnosis of Child Marriage and Girls Education in Nigeria.

According to Mr. Sese Nigeria has the largest number of child marriage in Africa, as one in five under aged girls are married off early.

He, therefore, stressed the need for the government and stakeholders to strengthen mechanisms that will protect children from any form of abuse and harmful practices affecting them.

The Minister of women Affairs Dame Pauline Tallen, explained that the event was a clarion call to change the situation of girls in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), inclusive and equitable education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.

She noted that a 2017 report by UNICEF’s indicated that the Girl-Child constituted 60 per cent of the 13.5 million out of school children in Nigeria, while 15 million girls were married off before they turn 18 years with devastating consequences on their health, education, and wellbeing.

The minister, while commending wives of governors, in curbing violence and other harmful practices, urged them and other stakeholders to support the government prioritse girl-child education as a spring board to address the challenges confronting them.

“I call for the collaborative efforts of state and non-state actors including Development Partners to support the efforts of Government towards Girl Child Education. And ending child marriage to accelerate the achievement of our common goals and our collective dreams of promoting the total wellbeing of the Girl Child in Nigeria,” she said.

On his part, the Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said child marriage was illegal which made girls vulnerable to violence, abuse and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV.

The wife of Kwara state Governor, Mrs Folake Abdulrazak, stressed the need to end child marriage by getting rid of some cultural practices that encourages Gender Based Violence (GBV) and fully ensure the implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Acts.

The Country Director, Save the Children International Nigeria Mercy Gichuhi said the State of the Nigerian Girl Report brings to the fore the dire state of the Nigerian girl child at the national level, its negative impact on education and empowerment, evidence-based gaps in socio-cultural beliefs and systems.

Reporting by Azizatu Sani, editing by Daniel Adejo.