From Sola Ojo, Kaduna

Locals from four Kaduna local councils have called on the State government and development partners to make sanitary pads and befitting toilets available in schools as deliberate strategies to retain girls in schools at least up to secondary level.

These were parts of the resolutions reached at a one-day community sensitization on Kaduna social protection policy and promotion of girls education held in Kafanchan the headquarters of Jema’a local government with representatives of Jema’a, Jaba, Zango Kataf and Sanga local councils in attendance.

Save the Children International in collaboration with Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition (KADSPAC) had organised the town hall meeting which ran simultaneously in selected local councils across the three senatorial zones to deepen the awareness and call for action on improved social protection policy and girls education in the state.

Leading a discussion on barriers to girls education, a KADSPAC Champion in Jema’a, Aisha Dahiru lamented that apart from early marriage, infrastructure, finance, security, cultural and religious norms, natural occurrences like menstruation are hindering girls from acquiring qualitative education like their boys’ counterpart.

“Give our girls sanitary pads so they can stay in school even during their menstruation. We have seen that many girls would rather stay at home during their menstruation than come to class. And I’m not sure if girls in this category can learn what they may have missed while off the school.

“I always say that the use of condoms among our young persons especially girls is optional because they can remain abstinent from sex. But menstruation is a natural biological occurrence that 99.9% girls and women must undergo in their lifetime, hence, the need to support our girls with more pads and less condoms”, she said.

In his goodwill message, District Head of Kafanchan, Saidu Umar, appreciated the organisers for reminding him and his subjects of the need to get all their children educated irrespective of their biological statuses.

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“We thank the people behind this important town hall meeting where we have been able to discuss the issue of girls education and social protection at large and I believe we all have roles to play when it comes to the progress of our girls in our communities”, he said.

Another traditional leader from Godogodo, Musa Bawa, tasked his fellow community leaders to ensure no child is left behind by way of mobilising themselves and engaging in attitudinal change discussion with parents whose girl(s) is not in school and be ready to offer support where necessary.

Earlier, Vice Chairman, Jema’a local government, Christy Umar in a message to participants, urged them to pay good attention to the education of every girl within their communities.

“Girls education transforms the community and society at large because it will help them to be better positioned socially and economically.

“Education for girls is about girls feeling safe in the classroom and getting all-around support in careers they pursue. In the long run, it increases lifespan, decreases child marriage, reduces maternal and child mortality. An educated mother will also guide and reduce stunted in their children”, she noted.

Chairman, Evidence and Knowledge Management Committee, KADSPAC, described the meeting as a ‘child of necessity considering the pivotal place of locals in driving important courses like social protection and girls education.

“We are doing this in collaboration with the SCI and we are here in Kafanchan where we have representatives of different stakeholders which include the local government, religious leaders, traditional leaders, market women, people with disabilities, transport union among others.

“You could hear from their commitment that they would step down this meeting to educate their people on social protection policy. They also promised to mobilise themselves to ensure girls are educated. We will follow up through their contacts to remind them of this commitment.