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Exclusive Breastfeeding: FCT rural communities list challenges

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Breast Feeding
Breast Feeding
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Some residents in the rural communities of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have identified economic challenge as one of the factors affecting their compliance to exclusive breastfeeding.

In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja, they stated
their different experiences and views on exclusive breastfeeding.

The 2021 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) runs from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7 with the theme “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared
Responsibility.”

Mrs Sandra Danjuma, a trader in Galadimawa, who blamed her noncompliance to exclusive breastfeeding to economic challenges, said they could not afford proper meal in the home.

According to her, there is no money in the house even to feed very well as a nursing mother because her husband does not have a regular means of income.

She added that “I decided to give water to my baby after breastfeeding her because I believe breastmilk will not be enough for her and after some months, I started to feed her with little food.”

Another resident, Mrs Patience Ola, a business woman residing in Kabusa community said “when I gave birth to my daughter, my mother did not allow me to do exclusive breastfeeding.

“She said I should give water to my baby too, apart from the breastmilk, saying the baby will be dehydrated.

“My mother also said that giving breastmilk without water was not done during her time.”

Also, Mrs Rachel Aaron, a resident of Jiwa community, told NAN that women in the area never believed
in exclusive breastfeeding.

“She said I did not do exclusive breastfeeding for my children because of negative things I was told about it.

“This is because the child finds it difficult to eat normal food apart from breastmilk even after weaning him or her.”

On the contrary, Mrs Precious Ifeoma, a lady Photographer in Guzape, Abuja, said she did exclusive breastfeeding against her mother’s advice on giving water to her baby.

She said “this is because I know the implications of not doing exclusive breastfeeding, so I tried as much as possible to breastfeed all my children without water for six months.

“I did exclusive breastfeeding in spite of my mother’s advice that it has been a long tradition to feed a baby with water.”

Another resident, a Midwife in Apo community who did not want to be identified, said the compliance in the rural community was low.

She said “most of the residents do not give full compliance due to some cultural beliefs.

“Some said their parents never taught them to give breastmilk only for six months, while others said they don’t have
the resources to feed well during the nursing period.

“Others also said breastmilk alone cannot satisfy the baby and therefore, add water to augment the breastmilk.”

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organisation (WHO), have faulted the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria, which the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), put at 29 per cent. (NAN)

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OMO-AGEGE MAKES CASE FOR GIRL-CHILD DEVELOPMENT

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Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo -Agege
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As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the 2021 International Day of the Girl Child, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has said that every girl-child should be given the opportunity to harness and realise their full potentials in life.

Senator Omo-Agege stated this in Abuja on Monday in his goodwill message to commemorate this year’s International Day of the Girl Child.

The event was organised by the Federal Ministry of Education.

The Deputy President of the Senate described the theme of the celebration: ‘Digital generation. Our generation’ as apt and encouraged every girl-child in the country to remain confident and focused in the pursuit of their goals.

Represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr Otive Igbuzor, the Delta Central lawmaker restated the commitment of the National Assembly to always make good laws meant to eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl-child..

“On the side of the legislature which I represent, we have not been resting on our oars. Firstly, Nigeria is signatory to typical international charters that seek to protect the girl child. These include the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of 1979, among others.

“Secondly, we have a collection of statutes that address issues of discrimination and undue restriction of the girl. They include the Child Rights Act (2003) with specific clauses that protect the girl child; the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (2015), also with specific clauses that protect women from violence that could undermine their psyche and self-worth, among others.

“We are also aware of the popular Bill for an Act to prevent, prohibit and redress Sexual Harassment of students in tertiary educational institutions and for matters concerned therewith (2019), which I had the privilege to sponsor. As we know, the Bill has already been passed by the Senate and is now only awaiting the concurrence of the House of Representative,” Omo-Agege said.

The senator made a case for more girls to be part of the new technology culture, adding that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) should not be dominated by boys.

Commemorated on October 11 yearly, the International Day of the Girl-Child is a day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the girl child while delibrating on issues affecting their development.

 

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FG committed to protection of children, schools – Osinbajo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo
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The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to the protection of children in schools across the country.

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo made the pledge at a three-day intensive workshop on Advocacy, Girls’ Education and School Safety, organised by the Malala Fund, on Monday in Abuja.

Osinbajo, represented by Dr Fatima Waziri, Director-General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), renewed government commitment towards education development in Nigeria.

Osinbajo said that was why education had one of the highest allocation in the national budget.

He said the government was working hard to close the gap of equality created by COVID-19 that made it difficult for girls to go to school.

“Government is here to support the girl child in every way it can.

“COVID-19 reinforced many gaps in education and made it difficult for girls especially to access healthcare and education.

“The drop in income for most families around the world will mean that families making choices will almost make choices that will disfavour the girl child.

“As schools remained closed during the pandemic, students education suffered while girls are more likely to drop out of school and not return but government recognised that the best interest of a child is paramount,” he said.

The Vice President noted that the need by government to improve access to education especially for the girl child was recently demonstrated by the ratification of the safe school Declaration.

He said the government would put in place a national policy to guide its implementation to protect children from attacks in schools.

Osinbajo said that Nigeria would continue to enact laws and policies to ensure children were protected and have access to education.

Also speaking at the event, a coalition of girls assembled by Malala Fund and Partners called on the Federal Government and its parastatals, security agencies and states to take necessary steps to ensure adequate protection for girls while in schools.

Miss Ugbedeojo Agamah, from Oprite Christian International School, Kurudu, Abuja, and spokesperson of the group, said there was need for the government and other stakeholders to scale up efforts to ameliorate the plight of girls in Nigeria .

According to Agamah, the girls demanded that relevant personnel should be engaged to effectively manage times of conflict in a way that enabled schools to remain unaffected.

“We, therefore, demand that the Federal Government, Ministry of Education, Women Affairs, Defense, security agencies and NAPTIP take the necessary actions to scale up all security efforts.

“They should ensure that decision makers take immediate steps to provide alternatives to keep students learning.

“Investing in making the school premises safer for girls to remain in school unharmed and ensuring their safety while going to school, at school and returning from school.

“We decide to join forces to ensure we achieve safer schools for girls by 2030.’’

Agamah said that the girls believed that educating a girl child prepared her to face the reality of her society and empowered her to contribute positively to the nation .

She said that prior to COVID-19 and the recent increased attacks on schools, nearly two out of three, about 6.34 million of the country’s 10.2 million out-of-school children were girls.

She said that at the start of 2020, over 935 schools in the Northeast were closed due to attacks, adding that many more schools were now closed across the north due to insecurity .

She said that evidence showed that girls were more vulnerable in the face of prolonged school closures.

Agamah said that although Nigeria was a signatory to several regional and international human rights instruments that affirmed the rights to education, the country had no constitutional guarantee to access safe, free and compulsory education.

Also speaking, Ms Omojola Tamilore from the University of Ibadan, said that the workshop was aimed at enhancing girls advocacy capacity on socio-cultural issues affecting girls in Nigeria .

Tamilore said that the workshop with the theme “Advocating for Safer Schools for Girls”, empowered the girls to learn and lead. (NAN)

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UN, NGO launch project to support 750 vulnerable, marginalised girls

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United Nations
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The United Nations Trust Fund and Tabitha Cumi Foundation on Monday launched the Flashlight Action on Girls’ Safety (FLAGS) to support 750 marginalised girls in FCT, Nassarawa and Niger states.

The foundation’s Executive Director, Mrs Tayo Erinle, said the project, funded by the UN Trust Fund, will provide access to multi-sectoral services to end all forms of violence against women and girls.

Erinle said the three-year project was relevant to this year’s International Day of the Girl-Child, with the theme, “Digital Generation-Our Generation; Digital Revolution: Not Without Girls.”

`It is a three-year project and it is particularly relevant to this year’s theme of the IDGC Digital Generation-Our Generation; Digital Revolution:Not Without Girl.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, we worked digitally with girls to reach them in their communities through literacy by radio.

“But now our digitilisation is going to be by way of getting access to justice, health and referral services for girls to support them against GBV.’’

According to her, the organisation was committed towards enhancing the dignity of marginalised girls and women and the project focus was on health, education and service delivery.

“FLAGS is a three-year project for May 2021 to May 2024 project funded by the UN Trust fund to end violence against women and girls, and is implemented by Talitha Cum Foundation to support 750 marginalised adolescent girls between the ages of 10-19 in 10 communities in FCT, Nassarawa and Niger states.

“We are working with health department, police gender desk office and FIDA in all the implementing states.

“We have a marginalisation criteria, we have chosen to select girls that are vulnerable, girls that actually need support,’’ she said.

She explained further that 525 girls in FCT, 150 in Nassarawa and 75 in Niger states will be benefitting from the project.

She said the vulnerable adolescent girls will also be provided with survival centered interventions within safe spaces, access to friendly multi-sectoral services and survival’s wellbeing to assist them.

“Why we need to support them is because many of them are naïve and they don’t even understand the signal, they don’t understand what is happening until they are harmed.

“That is why it is very important for us to inform them and give them correct information about what GBV is so that when they see it or experience, they can identify it and respond to it and report appropriately.

“Our approach is to establish safe spaces in the community in schools. Digitally, we are establishing virtual case management hubs to enable them easy access, avoid re-traumatisation and to engage all relevant stakeholders from FIDA, Health experts, FIDA,’’ she said.

According to her, they started with advocacies in communities for support for the project, enrolment of project beneficiaries and baseline assessment.

She noted that the beneficiaries were orphans, Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs), school drop-out, househelps, and teenage mothers.

Also, Amarachi Chukwu, Assistant Programme Officer, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), said the association has been carrying out advocacies in schools and the media on the harms of GBV.

“Even the Judges know that these cases are overwhelmed, they are trying their best to make sure the cases are disposed as soon as possible.

“They no longer delay cases especially cases of girl’s molestation and rape,’’ she said.

According to her, the establishment of special courts to handle GBV cases will help expedite prosecution of cases and ensure survivors get justice, which will serve as deterrent to others.

“The more such cases are delayed, the more traumatised the survivor becomes. But as soon as the survivor gets justice, they get better, ’’she said.

Similarly, Mrs Chioma Ukachi, representing the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, stressed on the need for opportunities for the girl-child to explore her potentials like the male.

“Every girl-child has a dream just like their male counterparts and therefore should be given a conducive environment free from violence and discrimination to achieve her dream,” she said.

Ukachi, therefore, reiterated the commitment of the ministry towards implementing policies that will protect and fulfill the rights of the Nigeria girl-child and bridge the inequality gap.

Also, Mrs Fehintola Aguda, Non-governmental Association For Literacy Support Services (NOGALSS), stressed the need for more sensitisation to encourage girls break the culture of silence and to speak out against GBV.

“Most of our girls are subjected to the culture of silence. They don’t allow you to talk, girls are restricted.

“And this is what we are trying to break so that you can be liberated,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Maria Sunday, 12 years, expressed appreciation to the organisations for their supports, which she said would enable her fulfil her dreams of becoming a medical doctor. (NAN)

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