World Population Day: NPC boss calls for greater attention on teenage girls

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With over 13 million teenage girls around the world being subjected to and forced by their families and communities into marriages annually, the Federal Government has been urged to encourage investment in teenage girls as part of efforts aimed at giving them better lives.
The Chairman, National Population Commission, Eze Duruiheoma, SAN, made the call while delivering a lecture titled, “Investing in teenage girls”, in commemoration of the 2016 World Population Day in Ibadan, Oyo State on Monday.
Duruiheoma said that increasing investment on the girl child will enable them to make important life decisions and equip them to be on equal footing with their male counterparts.
The NPC boss, who was represented by the State Director of the Commission, Mr. Olajire Rauf Balogun, said that teenage girls constituted an important segment whose conditions had great implications on the welfare of the general population and the nation’s quest for sustainable development.
According to him, globally, about 20, 000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 put to bed every day in developing countries and an estimated number of 3.2 million unsafe abortions occurred among girls every year, with 10 per cent of girls within the same age bracket having engaged in sex.
“At the national level, 23 percent of girls aged 15-19 years have begun child bearing, 17 per cent of which have had their first child and another five percent pregnant with their first child.
“Also, 32 per cent of teenagers in rural areas have begun child bearing, as opposed to 10 per cent in the urban areas of Nigeria,” he added.
Stressing the need for proper investment in teenage girls, he said, “When teenage girls are empowered, know their rights and are given the tools to succeed, they are more likely to realise their full potential and become positive forces for change in their families, communities and nation.
“Policies and investments in education and health, that empower teenage girls and create economic conditions that lead to jobs, are particularly important in countries with large, emerging youth populations. Such countries stand to realise a demographic dividend, which has the potential to strengthen and speed up economic growth.”
Duruiheoma noted that with the increasing spate of insecurity and organised crimes in Nigeria, the teenage girls, more than their male counterparts, had been victims of various types of physical violence and abuse, including rape, kidnapping, child trafficking and torture.
He called on the FG and state governments to implement the Child Right Act, as a way of protecting Nigerian children, including teenage girls, from deep seated practices that stifle their growth into responsible adults.