The President of Women Community in Africa, WCA, Khadijah Abdullahi says tackling child marriage is a vital step to solving the rising incidence insecurity, as well as high number of out-of-school children, malnutrition and low child immunization.
Khadijat who stated this at the 2022 WCA Summit in Abuja, themed “Literacy: A vaccine for child marriage”, explained that when girl who is about 14 years old is forced into marriage, she becomes an accidental parent because such a person is not yet ready for the task of raising children.
Speaking to our correspondent Nduka Ezeduino, the WCA President revealed that the 2-Day Summit brings together stakeholders from different backgrounds to brainstorm on the menace of child marriage, so that actionable plans could be realized for implementation.
“If you have observed we have a lot insecurity issues in Nigeria and a lot of people have not dissected the reason why we have these insecurity issues. What they have done is they gloss it over as if it has nothing to do with all these issues were are talking about, the SDG goals we are talking about.
“A child who is married at may be 13, 14 is still a child and doesn’t have the mental maturity to understand how to even nurture herself. She doesn’t even know her purpose as a human being yet. She is still discovering herself and you give her a child, to nurture another child.”
Addressing the theme of the Summit, the National Coordinator for WCA and General Assembly Member, Dr. Maimuna Salim noted that most girls encountered in previous Summits showed lack of literacy which is key in their decision making, hence the decision to centre the theme for 2022 around literacy for the girl child.
Salim further emphasized that a girl empowered with education will understand her sexual rights, have the right to decide when to be married, educate her own children among other benefits.
“Education they say is from the cradle to the grave, you never stop learning. If you do not educate a child, let the child learn and given the needed exposure. They won’t be able to make concise decisions for their life.
“Even when they get into marriage and start having their own children, they are not educated enough to begin to raise children so let her learn.
“And when we speak of say no to child marriage, we are teaching her to have a right to say no. and this is where we find the disparity, an uneducated girl does not know her rights. Yes we speak about culture, we speak about religion where they say a girl cannot marry at a certain age. Yes let her get marry but what about educating her to become independent? Because women are there as builders, when you educate a girl you educate the community. Yes women give birth to kids and who is going to be there to teach our kids?”
Included in the programme of the Summit are the parliamentary sessions for members of the General Assembly to brainstorm, visit to IDP camp and fund raising dinner to raise funds for effective implementation of resolutions reached.