The Malala Fund says educating the girl-child is instrumental in reducing Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria
Ms Pearl Uzokwe, U.S. Board Member, Malala Fund, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
Uzokwe spoke against the background of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an annual international campaign that runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.
The week focuses on “raising awareness to the devastating impact that gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) has on women and children, and the social fabric of our society”.
The theme of the week for 2023 is “Unite by 2030 to End Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG)”
Uzokwe said that the civil society remained power advocates and this is where the Malala Fund ‘where I sit on the board comes in.’
“Our mission remains `12 years of good quality education for the girl child’.
“We advocate for policy changes, invest in local education initiatives, and amplify the voices of girls around the world who are fighting for their right to education,” Uzokwe said.
She said that it was important to realise the intersectionality between gender -based violence against the girl-child and girl-child education.
According to her, it is a complex and critical one that involves the overlapping impact of various forms of discrimination and oppression.
“Gender-based violence without a doubt is a barrier to education. Coupled with that is the often cyclical relationship between GBV and lack of education.
“Girls who are denied education may face increased vulnerability to sexual violence due to limited opportunities, economic dependence etc.
“It is for reasons such as this, that Malala Fund which began its work in Nigeria in 2014, is committed to playing its part in reducing the seven million out-of-school girls in the country.
“To do that, hurdles including sexual violence, are part of the consideration,” Uzokwe said.
She noted that Malala Fund had invested more than $6.1 million in education work in Nigeria and in total awarded 52 grants.
She explained that the investment of the fund in Nigeria has impacted 14,000 children with direct services (such as school enrollment initiatives, advocacy trainings, and life skills trainings) and nearly six million children indirectly (through teacher trainings, policy change, and digital technology access).
“In Nigeria we currently fund 15 Education Champion organisations working directly at the grassroots.
“Helping to break barriers to education, including gender-based violence and two Girl Fellows, with a further three Fellows being brought on shortly,” Uzokwe said.
According to her, she is strong advocate for justice and the need for punitive measures in tackling the issues of GBV.
She said that legislations against GBV should be backed with enforcement to serve as a major deterrent.
“Our legal systems must become beacons of hope, not sources of further distress,” Uzokwe said.
She appealed to the private sector and corporate organisations to put in measures that would forestall the incidences of GBV whether at home or in public offices and spaces.
“The beauty of the work in this area is that each and everyone one of us can contribute to eliminating this. Our homes lay the foundation and the tone for what is acceptable in larger society.
“Let us train both boys and girls to truly respect and uphold the girl child and women.
“Fathers, I am specifically pleading and calling on you today as your urgent voices matter more than ever.
“A girl’s self-esteem is often times made or marred in equal proportion to the validation they get from their fathers.
“Don’t just think it, or spend your way to it…, actively speak it over those girl-children and build them up.
“For your sons, don’t just tell them how to treat women, but actively model it. Your example will outlive any words you use,” Uzokwe said.(NAN)