Report reaching Brainnewsradio this morning has it that, the section of the UN, overseeing Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as UN Women has on Tuesday called out for the prohibition of girl-child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
According to reports, this appeal was made at the ongoing 2018 UN Women Conference in Lagos by Dr Mary Okumu, the UN Women Country Representative to Sierra Leone.
The theme of the four-day conference, according to The News Agency of Nigeria is, ‘Ending Child Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation in Africa: Dialogue with Traditional and Cultural Leaders’.
Okumu, while speaking said that over 120 million women and girls in Africa had experience female genital
mutilation and child marriage, and that the statistics had made female genital mutilation and child marriage epidemic in Africa.
“These abuses against the girl-child and women call for concern and should be stopped to make Africa a safe place,” she said.
“These practices have negative impact. Some girls who are married off early experience pregnancy complications and some even die because their bodies were not mature to have babies.
She stated that the UN had regarded these practices as an abuse and decided to dialogue with traditional and cultural leaders as community gatekeepers on how to stop them.
Okumu said, “Some girls who go through female genital mutilation also bleed to death in many cases.
“The traumatic experiences happened where proper education, gainful employment, the health and the well-being of the girl-child are compromised.
“We are urging the traditional leaders and all concerned to be protectors of our children against harmful practices in order to transform the lives of the girl-child and build a great Africa.”
Only four percent of the girls in Africa were attending schools, according to Miss Maryam Ahmed, who is the representative of young girls, and that the rest were being married off to take up the role of motherhood unprepared.
“We, the girls in Nigeria and in Africa at large; are appealing to our parents, traditional leaders, and governments to prioritise our education and empower us to reach our potential.
“There is nothing more powerful than a girl with ‘A Book’.
“We have a right to be educated, to be heard and consulted; please, stand up for the girl-child, dear nation,” Maryam said.
She noted that Female Genital Mutilation and child marriage would always have long-term detrimental effects on the health, education, and future of the girl-child.
Speaking also at the conference was the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemaka Ugochukwu, who said, according to NTA that tradition and culture were dynamic and should be applied for the benefits of the people and not to harm them.
“We are in the 21st Century,” he said, “and we cannot allow our culture to take us back.
“We need to work together as a nation, and as a continent to end the scourge so that we can move with the rest of the world.”