The minister of women affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, has said that the federal government is committed to protecting the right of the girl-child through working with partners and communities to end child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence in the country.
Tallen disclosed this at a one-day meeting between the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and a coalition of CSOs working on ‘Ending Child Marriage in Nigeria’ supported by the Ford Foundation, the development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC), and the coalition of CSOs Technical Working Group in Nigeria.
According to the minister, this is a strategic decision of the government to promote, protect, and place the girl-child to attain her potentials in the country.
She said the federal government was working with other African countries who were determined to end child marriage in view of the serious threat it posed to the development of the girl child in the country.
“As the national strategy ends this year, this collaboration is key to coming up with a common front to ensure the child right act is domesticated across the 36 states of the federation to pave the way to end child marriage,’’ she said.
She therefore urged all Nigerians to protect the girl child by working to end child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence as a noble cause that is needed to safeguard the future of the Nigerian girl-child
Earlier, Ambassador Anthonia Ekpa, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, noted that the meeting was organised to deliberate and come up with ways to tackle the menace driving child marriage in the country.
According to her, this was with a view to identifying key strategies to address the gender inequality, social and economic, and health drivers of child marriage including a monitoring framework that has key objectives.
Mrs Ekpa stressed smthe meeting would also work to integrate and strengthen all sectoral mechanisms to end child marriage in the country.
She said it also aimed to build a nationwide capacity for research and knowledge sharing on child marriage to improve programming, as well as to promote relevant policies, legislation, and programmes that protect children from child marriage.
The Permanent Secretary called on all NGOs working on ending child marriage and other forms of gender violence to ensure they register with the ministry to ensure that collective efforts are strengthened to save the girl-child.
Also speaking, Mr Kolawale Olatusin, co-chair, Coalition of CSOs working to end child marriage, said it was imperative for Nigerians to change the negative socioeconomic and cultural norms that promote child marriage in society.
Dr. Stanley Ukpai, the director project, development Research and Projects Centre, said the Ford Foundation’s decision to support the federal government to end child marriage through building the capacities of CSOs in Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal was necessary to ensure regional efforts to end the menace.
He urged the participants to come up with more robust, sustainable, and applicable solutions to eliminate the menace of child marriage in Nigeria.
Participants also explored a draft framework for the extension of the National Campaign to End Child Marriage to integrate the new regional direction from the African Union.
They also considered harmonizing efforts to better measure the implementation of the National Strategy to End Child Marriage in Nigeria and the design of the 2021-2022 draft work plan to foster effective collaboration between the women affairs ministry and civil society organisations (CSOs).