Guest Blog: Dr Chris Ugwu, Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP)


21 October 2016

A  ONE-DAY CELEBRATION  OF THE INTERNATIONAL  DAY  OF THE GIRL  CHILD  AND  FORMAL LAUNCH  OF “COUNTRY PROFILE :  FGM IN NIGERIA”

1.0       Background / Introduction

11th October of every year is declared the International Day of the Girl Child. 

It is a day set aside by  the International Community  to celebrate  our  girls, to appreciate their  virtues  and to  recognize  that  the  world’s   1.1 billion  girls  are  part  of   a large and  vibrant  global  generation  poised  to take  on the  future  for the improvement of  our  society. It  is also a day  to  sensitize  our  policy makers,  government institutions  and   the   general  public  to the  fact that the  ambition  for  gender equality  in the Sustainable Development  Goals  (SDGs) highlights  the preponderance of disadvantage  and discrimination  borne  by  girls  everywhere, Nigeria  inclusive,  on a  daily basis. 

These disadvantages manifest  in male  preference  in  our   society;  denial   of   education  and   health  opportunities to girls  in families,  perpetuation of obnoxious  customary practices  including  Female  Genital Mutilation and  denial  of  inheritance  rights  among  so many  other  discriminatory  practices.

 

2.0       2016 Celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child and Launch of the “Country Profile: FGM in Nigeria”.

SIRP organized as part  of  this  year’s event, celebration of the International Day  of the Girl  Child, the  formal launch  in  Enugu State Nigeria of the “Country   Profile: FGM in  Nigeria.

In attendance  at this year’s  celebration  were  members  of  the  4th Estate  of   the  Realm,  the  Media; Government Officials,  representative  of Civil Society  organizations and Obollo-Afor Community  members. The Chairman of the occasion   was Ogbuefi  Chbukwuma  Ogbonna; the Managing Director  of Enugu State  Broadcasting Service (ESBS) Radio  and Television.

 

2.1       International Day of the Girl Child.

The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child is:

“Girls  Progress = Goal’s Progress:  A Global Data  Movement”

Dr Ugwu  submitted  that  it  was only  through  explicit focus on collecting and  analyzing  girl- focused,  girl-relevant  and  sex-disaggregated  data, and  using  these  in programme  decisions that we can adequately  measure  and  understand  the  opportunities  and  challenges  girls  face,  and  identify  and track  progress towards  solutions  to their most  pressing  problems. 

He  therefore used the  occasion of this year’s event  to  call  on  government,  NGOs and Development  Partners  involved  in Gender  Issues to  invest in Global  Girls Data Movement, in  order to:

  • Enhance national and sub-national capacity and systems to collect, analyze and   disseminate  gender  data  across  the  age spectrum to improve  statistics  on gender based  violence, adolescent pregnancy and  reproductive  health, informal  employment, entrepreneurship, unpaid work and  other  priorities  for girls and  young women.  
  • Dr Chris Ugwu, Executive  Director, Society  for  the  Improvement  of Rural People  read  an address to celebrate  the   occasion  and formally  launched  the Nigeria’s  FGM  Country  profile.

   

He enjoined all present at the event to be  part of the ultimate  success story of the Global Girls Data Movement;  to  share ideas, reaffirm  commitments and advance  investments in any  effort at collecting, analyzing and  disseminating  gender  data across  age spectrum to improve  statistics  on gender based  violence  including FGM.

 

2.2       Formal Launch of “Country Profile: FGM in Nigeria” at Obollo-Afor Udenu LGA of Enugu State as part of the Celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child

Dr  Ugwu, Executive Director, Society  for the  Improvement  of Rural  people (SIRP) informed  guests  at the Obollo-Afor celebration  that  the formal  launch of the  FGM Country  profile was organized  in  collaboration  with an UK NGO ‘28 Too Many’.  The FGM Country Profile which  was produced by 28 Too Many  provided  comprehensive  information  on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria, detailing current research and  discussing  the  political, anthropological  and  sociological contexts  in which FGM is  practised  in Nigeria. 

Stakeholders in FGM  Eradication movement, especially  representatives  of CSOs  working on  harmful,  cultural  practices  were  provided with ‘T’ shirts  for  the  occasion  and  copies  of  the     country profile (Executive  Summary). Their email contact  were  collected;  as full  copies  would  be  forwarded  to their  contact.

   

Guests and Participants in the event  were asked  to  utilize  the  country Profile  as a  Resource/Guide to shape  their  policies and  practices  regarding  the  eradication  of  FGM particularly  in the South- East of Nigeria,  and  in that  way  create  a  positive and sustainable   change  in FGM  practice, especially  within  the context  of Sustainable  Development Goals 2015 – 2030.

 

3.0       Comments from some Guests and Participant in the event

Ogbuefi Chukwuma  Ogbonna, Managing  Director, ESBS Enugu (Radio/TV) .

  • “I wish  to  commend SIRP and  28 Too Many  for   collaborating  to celebrate this  year’s  International Day   of the Girls Child  in a rural  community.     This  is  very  significant  because most FGM practices,  here in  Enugu  State take  place  in the  rural  areas  because  of  their  rigidity  to  customary  practices.   I thank 28 Too Many  for putting  together  this  compendium  of unassailable data  on FGM in Nigeria”
  • “We in ESBS Radio/TV will  continue  to  partner  with and  support  SIRP’s  laudable program of ensuring that  FGM practice  is eradicated  in the South East  of Nigeria.  Keep it up SIRP. I join 28 Too Many to say “FGM  ... Lets end it”.

  

Mr Kyrian  Agbodike, the Chief  of Staff of Udenu  Local Government area; Enugu State.

  • “Udenu Local Government Administration is very happy with SIRP for  bringing  the  celebration  of this  year’s  event  of the International  Day of  the Girl Child to  our  Local Government. I was  highly  impressed with the celebration  particularly  the  rural  medical mission  which  I saw  with my  eyes.  Women and old people are accessing medical services freely.  I was also the more impressed with the FGM country Profile prepared by 28 Too Many . The Research work  was thorough and  we  in the Council  will  use  it  our policy  development  of  “Prohibition of  all obnoxious and Discriminatory practices against the Girls Child in Udenu  Local  Government  Area."
  • "In all we want  to assure  SIRP  of the Council’s readiness and commitment  to  partner  with her  to eliminate  all  harmful  traditional practices  against  the  Girl Child  including  FGM in the Local   Government."

 

4.0       Conclusion and Next Step(s) 

The  celebration  of this  year’s International Day of the Girl Child  was  very eventful as this   was the first time, SIRP was  celebrating it  in the  rural  community.

It  was  also eventful because  we had to make  it   a big  media event; by ensuring that the Managing  Director  of the State’s  media  organization,  Enugu  State Broad Casting  Service (ESBS Radio/TV) was  the  chairman  of the  occasion; hence  elaborate  coverage  of the event happened  in  both the radio and  television  for  3 days  in the State, 11-13 October  2016 .

This  years’ event  was  also particularly unique  because  SIRP had  the unique privilege  of partnering with an UK based NGO – 28 Too Many  to undertake  a joint  mission,  namely to ensure the  successful launch  of  the first ever, well documented,  systematically  arranged  and   professionally  rendered, resources  material  for use by  practitioners,  researchers and policy  makers  in the area  of female  Genital  Mutilation in Nigeria and beyond . And  this happened  successfully!

SIRP is  grateful  to 28 Too Many  for involving  us  in this  Project.