By Ahmed Ahmed
The United Nations Child Fund (UNICEF) officer in Charge of Bauchi Field Office, Mr Clement Adams, has said that the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2021) revealed that the prevalence rate of marriage remain highest in the Northwest and Northeast regions of Nigeria with an indication that Bauchi state 75.1% of women married before the age 18 years.
Mr. Adams made the disclosure at a rally to mark the 16 days activism celebration on Violence Against Women and Girls in Bauchi state on Saturday.
The rally organized by Human Rights Commission in partnership with UNICEF, Child is Gold Foundation and other Civil society organization (CSO) in Bauchi state.
The theme for the 2023 16 days of Activism,” INVEST TO PREVENT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS”.
He said that over the years, notable progress has been made in the State, adding that there was need to collectively intensify all efforts to push forward in advancing holistic development, including the effective handling of all issues revolving around children.
“Child marriage (as a component of Gender Based Violence) is a huge challenge to the development of adolescent girls, and has enormous adverse effects on their human rights, education, health (includes sexual and reproductive health), and their socio-economic status later in life.
“Social Norms and Poverty constitute some of the root causes of child marriage in Nigeria. Some of the norms are driven by multiple factors such as fear of promiscuity, financial security, cultural and religious beliefs and even gender inequality.
“Nigeria is one of the countries that has committed to ending child marriage within the African Union Commission framework and launched the National Campaign and Strategy to End Child Marriage (2016-2021) on 29 November 2016.
“As part of the efforts to review this strategy, there are ongoing nationwide consultations to inform the development of a reviewed National Strategy to End Child Marriage in Nigeria (2024-2030). The consultations involve key stakeholders from Government, Civil Society, Youths, traditional & religious leaders as well as Women groups,,”he said.
The UNICEF Officer in Charge, called for redouble commitments from Government be all Stakeholders to effectively address Gender Based Violence.
Adams appreciated the commitment of Bauchi state government on effort towards addressing issues around women.
While there is a huge responsibility on the part of the government, it needs to be emphasized also, that the positive change required begins with everyone of us – in our homes, communities, offices and in spaces where human interactions take place, he added.
In her speech, Mrs Yahcit Dala, Bauchi State Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) reiterated the commitment of the commission to address critical issues affecting the rights of women, girls and other human rights generally.
“As we mark the 75 anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we are urged to “remember that it is not just a historic document but a living testament to our shared humanity.
The Commission reiterated its unwavering commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights stating that, “Together, let us invest in tools and resources necessary to break the cycle of violation of human rights and usher in the era of equality, respect and dignity for all,” she said.
According to her, this year’s programme has been very vocal in addressing issues on GBV as it affects women and girls with focus on legislation, accountability, advocacy and also addressing harmful cultural practices which promote and protect the rights of women and girls.
She explained that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, empower citizens to stand for our rights and rights of others.
In her remarks, the Executive Director of Child is Gold, Mrs Elizabeth George stressed that there is a need for unity of purpose in order to fight the menace of gender based violence against women and girls in the society.
She explained that the fight against violence on women and girls, if checked and reduced to the barest minimum, would fast track peace and foster development in the society.
Also, Mr Mbami Sabka Bauchi state coordinator, Council for Affirmative Action commended all CSOs and other stakeholders for their contributions in the campaign for the release of detained Rhoda Jatau.