International Women’s Day: UNICEF advocates end to girl child marriage
Temitope Mustapha, Abuja
As the world marks the 2021 International Women’s Day, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on the Nigerian Government and all stakeholders to extinguish girl child marriage in the country.
The UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore stated this on the commemoration of the 2021 International Women’s Day, saying the day remains a key moment to remind each other of what girls have to lose if the world does not act urgently on their education, health and their futures.
The UNICEF forewarned that school closures, economic stress, service disruptions, pregnancy, and parental deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic were putting the most vulnerable girls at increased risk of child marriage.
“Before the COVID-19 outbreak, 100 million girls were at risk of child marriage in the next decade, despite significant reductions in several countries in recent years
“Last ten years, the proportion of young women globally who were married as children had decreased by 15 per cent, from nearly 1 in 4 to 1 in 5, the equivalent of some 25 million marriages averted, a gain that is now under threat
“COVID-19 has made an already difficult situation for millions of girls even worse. Shuttered schools, isolation from friends and support networks, and rising poverty have added fuel to a fire, the world was already struggling to put out,“ the UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta
She added that Worldwide, an estimated 650 million girls and women were married in childhood, with about half of those occurring in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India and Nigeria.
“To off-set the impacts of COVID-19 and end the practice by 2030 – the target set out in the Sustainable Development Goals progress must be significantly accelerated,“ Fore added.