. . . Calls for Increase in Girl's Participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math Learning
* * Harps On Menstrual Hygiene
By Abuchi Onwumelu
The Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Akabuike, has called for more opportunity for girls and increase in awareness of gender inequality faced by girls across the globe.
Addressing newsmen in his office at Jerome Udoji Secretariat, Awka, Dr. Akabuike, said that the International Day Observance was declared by the United Nations to be celebrated every 11 October, noting that the main aims of the day was to promote girl's empowerment and fulfilment of their Human Rights while also highlighting the challenges faced by girls all over the world.
He said that on the 19 November, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly voted and passed a resolution adopting October 11 as International Day of Girl Child which, according to him, was launched in 2012 by the same United Nations general assembly.
Speaking on the objectives and significance of the celebration, the health commissioner said it was organized to raise awareness of issues of education, nutrition, child marriage, equality, access to services facing the girls globally as well as issues regarding puberty, legal and medical rights.
He further said that it was done to advocate for a meaningful participation of girls in decision that affected them, and to break the cycle of discrimination and violence against women.
Akabuike said empowering girls required their active participation in decision making process, active support and engagement of parents, legal guardians, family and care-giver (providers) as well as boys and men and the wider community.
On the theme of this year's programme entitled, "With Her; A Skilled Girl Force", the renowned gynaecologist said to develop A Skilled Girl Force, the global community should rapidly expand access to inclusive education and training, improved the equality and gender -responsiveness of teaching and learning to enable girls to develop foundation, transferable and job-specific skills for life and work.
He called for creation of inclusive and accessible schools, training and learning opportunities to empower girls with disabilities, noting that they should also change gender stereotypes, social norms, and unconscious bias to provide girls with the same learning and career opportunities as boys.
Akabuike called for increase in girl's participation in science, technology, engineering and Math (STEM) learning and also create initiatives that would support girls' school-to- work transition, such as career guidance, apprenticeships, internships and entrepreneurship.
'There is need to deliver large scale public and private sector programming for girls' skills and market adapted training. Enable access to finance and enterprise development for female entrepreneurs.
'Form strategic partnership with government and private companies which can act as thougts leaders and financiers helping to train girls and bring them into the workforce,' he said.
Commissioner Akabuike used the opportunity of the celebration to reach out to adolescent girls and boys and equally gave them health talk on issues that concerned them such as dangers of cultism (Life and death), alcohol and drug abuse, it effect to health. Child abuse , effect of abortion on girls, effects of unwanted pregnancy, poor nutrition and junk food intake as well as menstrual hygiene.
Other activities embarked upon by the ministry included, road work/ sharing of handbills and fliers, symposium, school debates, presentation on health topics, interview on gender disparity at markets, roads, churches, schools, football competition between girls and boys.