SCI seeks urgent action to address child marriage in Nigeria

Save the Children International (SCI) Nigeria, has called on the Federal Government to holistically address child marriages as reports reveal that there are 23 million child-brides in Nigeria.

The report titled “Budgeting to End Child Marriage in Nigeria’ was launched by the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye at a Girls led conference organised by SCI in Abuja.

The SCI report showed that Northern Nigeria, recorded the highest number of child-brides, as 48 per cent of women are married before age 15, while 78 per cent are married before age 18,.

The report also showed that adequate funding is required at all levels of government to effectively and sustainably curb the menace that endangers the future of the girl-child.

The report further revealed that child marriage is both a cause and consequence of adolescent pregnancy and is linked to maternal mortality, poor education, ongoing exposure to gender based violence, illiteracy and intergenerational poverty, and this threatens girls right and gender equality.

“With a population of more than 218 million people, Nigeria is home to 23 million child brides, with two in every five women married as children.”

The report called on the government to upscale funding to protect the girl-child, ensuring they remained unmarried and are in school, and also build more classrooms and schools to accommodate more girls, hence the need to increase the budget to end child marriage.

It also called for the need to establish technical working groups to end child marriage; Put together advocacy groups to keep track of financial releases and allocations at the State level.

It also called for the implementation of the Nigerian Government’s Generation Equally commitments with a strong focus on child marriage and reform to enable more effective budget allocation.

The Women Affairs called for a collaborative effort towards addressing the plight of the girl-child in Nigeria and empower them with girls to be self reliant.

UKennedy-Ohanenye said that the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, approved the establishment of mobile court to trial child abusers based on the Child Rights Act, CRA, in all the states.

She added that children would be well protected as there would be the prosecution of offenders including parents who a support abuses, violation of children’s rights among others.

She also called on States to work with the Federal Government to curb the menace of child marriage.

The minister said that She said there is need for young girls to learn skills so as not to depend on others.

“On our part, we will continue to support women and girls. We will champion various advocacies to put an end to these challenges.

“We are working closely with other stakeholders to ensure success in that area,this is the time for action and less talk; I urge teachers to be close to their students so as to know their challenges.”

The Interim Country Director, SCI, Nigeria, Faton Krasniqi, said that it was important to budget child rights agenda to protect children’s future and their rights.

Represented by the Director of Advocacy, Campaigns, Communication and Media, Amanuel Mamo, Krasniqi said that child marriage erodes and dries the future of girls, their dreams and hope in life.

“One of the girls who unfortunately end up in early, child and forced marriage could possibly be someone who invents and have a solution for some of the major challenges that the world is facing today.

“There are some bold measures that the Federal and State governments have taken to advance child rights in Nigeria.

The National Strategy to End Child Marriage (2016-21)is among the major tools that the Federal

Ministry of Women Affairs has been championing.

“The creation of National Technical Working Group on Ending Child Marriage also brought coalition of stakeholders from the government, CSOs and INGOs with an intention to drive the implementation the strategy.”

Krasniqi said that existing laws, strategies and plans could only be fulfilled if it was budgeted for ,adding that the findings of the research called for the need to allocate adequate financial resources to tackle the underlying causes of child marriage.

He added that the study identified bottlenecks and provides recommendations on what should be addressed to accelerate the fight against early, child and forced marriage.

Also speaking , Miss Shamiga Rita, a Girl Champion of SCI Nigeria from Benue called for intervention to safeguard the future of the girl-child against child marriage.

Also speaking , Miss Shamiga Rita, a Girl Champion of SCI Nigeria from Benue called for intervention to safeguard the future of the girl-child against child marriage.

“The issue of child marriage is very worrisome and challenging because it cuts the girls’ lives short and hinders them from achieving their dreams and aspirations including full potential.

“Government need to implement the child rights law, and we need actions, budgeting and planning should be children inclusive.

“We also need sensitization, and we also advocate for child’s right, and parents need sensitisation.

We want change, and if the girl-child is denied her right how can we have this change?”, Rita who was a one-day governor of Benue said.

Contributing, the Katsina State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Zainab Musa, who represented the First Lady of Katsina,Hajiya Zulaihat Radda said the challenge of child marriage was worrisome .

“Our plan of action is to take back budgeting proposal as shown by SCI Nigeria and ensure it is practised in order to end child marriage in the state.”

Source: News Agency of Nigeria