From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
As the World marks this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD), Save the Children International (SCI) on Friday called on the Nigerian Government to prioritize investments in women and protect young girls.
Save the Children is the leading child rights organization headquartered in the United Kingdom with offices in over 120 countries around the world.
The international organisation further urged the government to advocate for women and girls’ active participation in decision-making processes as essential for fostering inclusive governance and sustainable development.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is, “Invest in women: Accelerate Progress”.
SCI’s Acting Media and Communication Manager, Nigeria, Rhoda Ndahi, in a statement on Friday noted that as the world grapples with multifaceted challenges such as violent conflicts, escalating poverty, the impacts of climate change, and the persistent dynamics of gender inequality, the plight of women, particularly in Nigeria, demands a strategic and concerted response along with substantial investment.
Referencing recent United Nations reports, she said over 43.7 million women in Nigeria are living below the poverty line of USD 1.90D per day.
To her, the UN Women forecasts that over 340 million women and girls will continue to endure extreme poverty by 2030, depriving them of their potential and perpetuating gender disparities within society.
She highlighted early child marriage as one of the primary obstacles hindering women’s empowerment and access to social protection.
“This harmful practice robs countless young girls of the opportunity to break free from the cycle of poverty to achieve holistic well-being”, she said
She further stated that it was imperative to recognize that every woman was once a girl, underscoring the critical importance of safeguarding and investing in girls today to secure the empowerment and financial independence of women tomorrow.
She quoted SCI’s Girl Champion, Rita Doose as saying “Investing in a woman is a priority and a task that we must undertake. If we help her, we would be setting up a stage for a leader, protecting the future of every girl, and that accelerates the progress of the society, placing women on the pedestal for greatness and addressing the issues of gender inequality.”
She emphasised that social protection interventions could serve as a means to empower women and girls, reducing inequities and ensuring access to opportunities that would transform their present and future.
“Investing in women and girls through social assistance programs will provide access to food, healthcare, clothing, and shelter; social insurance programs will enable women to have access to healthcare during and after pregnancy.
“For girls, improving access to social protection interventions that enable enrolment and retention in schools also reduce the risks of abuse, child labor, and early marriage as an easy means of overcoming poverty”, she said.