2021 Day of The Girl Child and Ini Adiakpan’s Sustained Advocacy By Edet Okpo

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The 2021 International Day of the Girl Child came with a renewed call for government, parents and guardians to break some inherited obnoxious traditions that have affected the girl child and deliberately key them into the scheme of things for a purposeful living and full utilization of their God-given talents.

Given the terrible history the girl child inherited from centuries of humiliation,harassment and subjugation from ancient traditions and customs,the general opinion is that if not struggle and advocacy as well as commitment by strong women and credible institutions,Girl child would have since been consigned to the dustbin of history.

At the forefront of this challenge in celebrating the 2021 Day was the Honourable Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Dr. Ini Adiakpan, who led out the permanent Secretary in her Ministry, women, children and resource persons to mark the day with a bang.

The event which was held recently at the E-Library Complex, IBB Way, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State came with theme: “Digital Generation, Our Generation. The theme simply suggests that the girl child should be a critical and competitive player in the global digital economy, and therefore should not be hindered in any way by traditions and culture in a male-dominated world they have found themselves.

According to Dr. Adiakpan who used the occasion to emphasize on the need for gender equality, there should be investment in the girl child to pave way for development in the society.

Just imagine what our community would have looked like have you not deliberately and actively built upon the ugly narrative of the girl- child in the past to chart a new course of action for self- definition,self- discovery and self-assertion.
Therefore,because I and some of the credible women who are at this even today have been beneficiaries of this great history of sacrifices and emancipation. I am excited and inspired by matter pertaining to the liberty and training of the girl-Child.

The Women Affairs Commissioner stated that Akwa Ibom is blessed to have a gender-friendly governor and wife who have willingly made resources available for the self-growth and development of the girl child and women in general.

She said through the Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Path Initiative (FEYReP), a pet project of Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, women have been empowered and trained and snatched away from the shackles of poverty and self a humiliation.

” There is a dire need for our girl child to be encouraged, supported, trained, empowered for economic resourcefulness , equipped and exposed to modern digital knowledge so as to compete favourably with their contemporaries in other parts of the world”. Adiakpan stated.

She particularly thanked and commended the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel
for going further to approve the publication of a journal to document the women in the State, in addition to the free and compulsory education policy in the State.

Speaking categorically on the theme of this year’s celebration of the girl child when she played host to three radio stations in the State, Dr. Adiakpan, said:

“The global trend is going digital and the use of ICT cannot be over emphasized. Our girls should be introduced to apps reading, cooking, crafts, exercise and even help to undergo training in martial arts as a way of protecting themselves from harassment by bullies.

“The educational values of ICT cannot be overstated as it opens a thousand windows of opportunities to the girl child in entrepreneurial development, education, and many others”

She therefore charged parents and guardians to be up to their responsibilities of inculcating good values in their children, monitoring what they do with their phones, and helping them to realize that both the male and female child have a place in the society.

Spicing up the day with pep talks and lectures were women resources persons sourced from the academe, IT sector and legal bodies who have distinguished themselves in their chosen carriers.

Executive Director, Savannah Energy PLC, Mrs. Nkoyo Etuk, said for the girl child to excel in today’s competitive world, she needs self-discipline, hard work and focus to reach the heights.

On her part, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor, Mrs. Patricia Owokere, who spoke on grooming and etiquette, harped on the girl child to know that the entirety of what she does and says can define her worth in the society. Hence, she advised them to also beware of their mode of dressing and grooming and how they observe etiquettes.

Participants were also exposed to rights of the girl child. According to Barr. Happiness Thompson, such include Right to life, Right to education, Equal rights to inheritance, etc.

There were also presentations in other areas. Jude Fidelis exposed those in attendance to the workability of various ICT applications; while Speaker of Children Parliament, Hon. Rhoda Vincent, highlighted on the plights the girl child in the society and why she must not give up. These were followed up with interactive sessions where questions were asked and instant answers provided.

Some government functionaries and girl rights advocates also graced the event. They include Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs. Margaret Eden; immediate past President General of Oron Union and SSA to the Governor on SMEs, Chief Mrs Janet Amba; Mrs. Mary Atan; and Mrs. Arit Okon. Present also were some members of the Children Parliament and students and teachers from selected schools.

Sequel to issues raised and subsequent plan of action during the 1995 Women Conference in Beijing, China, a resolution was endorsed by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) that October 11 of every year be celebrated as the Day of the Girl Child.

It is therefore gladdening to see how the Commissioner for Women Affairs, has been adding colour to each year’s event in a determined effort to give women a bigger platform and louder voice in re-echoing their relevance to the society, the reason they should not be discriminated against.

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