The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), the Akwa Ibom State Council, and Breakthrough Action Nigeria, a USAID-funded project in the state, have advocated for better treatment of girl children and the implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) in the state as the world observes today as International Day of the Girl Child.
The association urged the government to make sure that anyone found guilty of injustice against a girl child faced the full force of the law in a statement that was issued to journalists in Uyo on Tuesday and signed by the chairperson and secretary of NAWOJ, Nsikak Okon and Patience John, respectively.
The women journalists who spoke on the celebration’s theme, “Our Time is Now, Our Rights, Our Future,” said it was a call for the girl child to be free from all types of biases and have her rights returned.
The association also recommended preaching against rape, teenage pregnancy, child marriage, female genital mutilation, child trafficking, and other harmful behaviors against girls in churches, communities, government, groups, and organizations.
The union thus honored several women from the state who have excelled in their fields, including the governor’s wife, Dr. Martha Emmanuel, Imaobong Nse Uko, a world record holder in the junior 400-meter race, Aniekeme Alphonsus, and others.
“We aim to commemorate every girl kid in our society who, despite the challenges, has been able to make a mark of greatness, a difference of a success story, and worthwhile achievements that have positively touched society,” the statement said in part.
“To every girl who has experienced abuse, there is always a sympathetic ear to listen to your case, a shoulder to cry on, a supporter to help you swallow the bitter medicine, and a bright future ahead.
“NAWOJ, Akwa Ibom State Council calls on the government of Akwa Ibom State to ensure that the VAAP Law be enforced and that anyone found responsible for the injustice done to the girl child must bear the full weight of the law.
“We additionally urge preaching messages against rape, adolescent pregnancy, child marriage, female genital mutilation, child trafficking, and other harmful behaviors against the girl child in churches, communities, government, groups, and organizations. We must assist the girl child in developing and fulfilling her God-given potential while also making a positive contribution to society.
“We especially congratulate Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel, wife of Akwa Ibom State Governor, for her tireless efforts to provide a decent and joyful future that safeguards the girl child.”
In addition, USAID BA-N called for an end to early child marriage by making sure that communities and families are aware of the risks associated with early pregnancy and childbearing and are taking steps to prevent them.