By Justina Auta
Wife of Nigeria’s Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, and wives of Kebbi and Ogun state governors, on Tuesday stressed the need to improve access to quality education for the girl-child.
They made the call at the launch of the ‘Always Keeping Girls in School (AKGIS)’ project and commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) in Abuja.
Osinbajo, while decrying the high number of out of school children, particularly girls, in the country, called for more commitment to highlight issues affecting the girl-child to enable her explore and achieve her potentials.
According to her, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and other harmful traditional practices like the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are some of the hindrances affecting the girl-child.
While commending Proctor and Gamble (P&G) and Talitha Cumi Foundation for distributing sanitary hygiene materials to girls, Osinbajo stressed the need to provide opportunities for girls to achieve their dreams.
“The potential that the girl child has must not be stopped by anything. They must achieve their potentials because our enjoyment of life depends on it.
“The potential of the girl, who will be a pilot or maybe an astronaut, who may be a doctor or maybe a surgeon, a teacher or CEO or an MD as we see today or a first lady when she is educated, is a step closer to being who she is made to be,’’ she said.
Also, wife of the Kebbi state governor, Dr Zainab Bagudu, called on the government to provide conducive business environment for businesses to thrive, which will encourage investors to delve into sanitary hygiene products.
“There is a lot that needs to be done, we have indigenous and non-indigenous manufacturers of sanitary hygiene products that are facing a lot of difficulty operating within the current atmosphere in the country.
“Repatriation of the earnings is very difficult, it is not something that is limited to this industry alone. There is taxation of some of the components that is required to make these products.
“Government needs to sit down and look at that and find a way to provide an easy to do business environment that we here about all the time,’’ she said.
While commending P&G and Talitha Cumi Foundation for providing vulnerable and marginalised girls in Ogun state with sanitary products, the wife of Ogun state governor, Mrs Bamidele Abiodun, called for subsidy in taxation of sanitary products.
“Many children cannot afford to purchase sanitary towels and now things are even tougher.
“So now you can imagine the impact of it in the lives of children, young girls. If we make provisions on a regular basis for sanitary towels.
“We need the government to support the manufacturers to make laws that will make it easier for the manufacturing and production of sanitary towels to be more accessible and affordable to young girls,’’ she said.
On her part, Mrs Temitope Iluyemi, Senior Director, Global Government Relations, Africa, P&G, said the launch of the second round of AKGIS project is aimed at removing gender bias, promoting girl-child education and ending SGBV.
Iluyemi said the project targets 10,000 girls with menstrual hygiene education programme as well as one-year supply of always sanitary pad in rural and semi-urban areas in the FCT and Ogun state.
Mrs Tayo Erinle, Executive Director, Talitha Cumi Foundation, said the organisation will work with school authorities to offer girls that are vulnerable some sanitary products and menstrual hygiene education.
“The idea is to reach girls who do not have the opportunity or cannot even afford sanitary pad and they are many. So we work in schools that are underserved communities to meet these girls.
“Some of them are househelps, orphans, heads of households – girls, who treat their menstruation with ordinary clothing materials,’’ she said.
Erinle said the girls will be given adequate and right knowledge on menstrual hygiene management, puberty training and discarding myths and taboos associated with menstruation to enable them stay in school during their cycles.