By Justina Auta
Partnerships for Equity and Inclusion Network, a network of organizations, urged the government and other stakeholders to create a gender budget that will meet the needs of out-of-school adolescent girls in communities across the country.
Ms Tayo Erinle, Executive Director of the Tabitha Cumi Foundation, made the appeal on Wednesday in Abuja during the “Meeting to disseminate the findings of the pilot project: adolescent girls missing from the development radar”.
The research, which was a collaboration of three groups: Change Makers International, Tabitha Cumi Foundation and University of Abuja Center for Gender Studies, aimed to identify adolescent girls missing from the development radar.
Erinle said it was important for stakeholders to commit to a policy direction that would include out-of-school adolescents to break the cycle of poverty.
“This report is excellent and timely, so what it means is that there has to be political direction to include adolescent girls, there has to be gender budgeting.
“Their comrades in schools are entered in the school register, so their statistics are covered, but those who are nowhere and who do not have a national identity card are excluded.
“They don’t have a driver’s license, so they’re not factored into the demographics of the country.
“Girls who are not in school should be counted and included and covered in a budget; their health, their education, their financial empowerment must be taken into account if we are to break the circle of poverty, ” said Erinle.
Ocholi added that the government has programs and plans to give the best education to those in schools.
She said it was also important for the government to design the best programs for dropout and out-of-school girls in communities.
She explained that “if you go to the backcountry you will see that so many girls are wasting away, doing nothing and no one thinking about them.
“We don’t know what the future of this county will be without them going to school; there is a multiplier effect on these children and on the generation to come.
“We intend to publish the report and let all stakeholders and all those who are responsible for making a decision about them know and act to get them back on the development radar.”
The donation also listed some findings in communities, including the inability of parents to educate their children due to poverty, poor living conditions, social vices such as unwanted pregnancies, forced and early marriages.
In the same vein, Dr Felicia Onibon, president of the international network Change Makers, explained that the participatory research method was carried out in the six regional councils of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) namely: Abaji, AMAC , Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje and Kwali.
Onibon said the research involved a sample of 78 people including 66 teenage girls and 12 community leaders.
“We chose two communities per regional council, so we had 12 communities and we identified 10 girls that we trained in the participatory research method.
“We had six young researchers who lived in these communities and worked with them, they became skilled at asking questions, became more confident and they could help their peers,” she added.
The chief acknowledged that the research had greatly sensitized and enlightened his community.
He said: “I am very happy that research has started in my community, as I have seen a lot of changes.
“Back then, we didn’t send our daughters to school, we just forced them to marry.
“With the arrival of the program, I learned more, our girls education program is also progressing now; I am very happy that they brought this to the base. “
Aisha Adamu, participant and research manager of the Mapa community of the FCT Bwari Regional Council, also thanked the organizations for their interest in out-of-school adolescent girls in the FCT.
She said: “I was trained to get information about the challenges that adolescent girls face in our community in terms of education and health and we were able to get feedback.
“This research has helped give girls a voice to speak out about what bothers them and if there is nothing we can do within our community, we can run to organizations to help us,” Adamu said.
The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that Partnerships for Equity and Inclusion is a network of 14 different organizations, institutions, civil societies and academics working together to conduct different innovative research that could lead to informed policy making. (NOPE)
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