Governors are set to prevent early/child marriage through legislation and advocacy.
This is even as governors will adopt and implement free and compulsory education for girls to keep adolescent girls in school.
This was one of the decisions reached by the National Economic Council presided over by vice president, Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.
The council recognized the importance of investing in adolescent girls to accelerate Nigeria’s demographic transition.
In a presentation by the chairman national population commission, Hon Nasir Isa Kwarra said adolescents constitute a population age 10 -19 years and by estimate, represent 23.4% of the total population of Nigeria.
According to him, meeting adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health and educational needs can fast-track Nigeria’s journey from being a pre-dividend to an early dividend country.
He said addressing adolescent needs and empowering them can quicken the opening of the window of opportunity required to harness a demographic dividend.
He, however, listed some constraints that need to be addressed urgently:
“High fertility among adolescents limits their productivity: currently, the fertility rate among adolescent girls is at 106 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19;
“43% of our girls marry before age 18; 8% get married before age 15;
“19% of teenage girls have commenced childbearing
“27% in rural versus 8% in urban areas;
“Adolescent girls contribute to the prevailing high maternal deaths in Nigeria
“Adolescent fertility and its consequences will worsen given the lower enrolment and school completion rates for girls than boys.
Consequently, governors were asked to keep adolescent girls in school through the following:
“Adopt and implement free and compulsory education for girls: at least a completion of Senior Secondary Education in all the 36 states and the FCT. E.g., Conditional Cash transfers to ensure girls stay in school.
“Safe Schools: Ensure availability of appropriate amenities and security in all schools across the country. E.g., Lavatories, security fence.
“Empowerment: Increased investment in empowering women and girls in and out of school; working with the community and religious leaders in addressing social norms.
“Expand access to essential primary healthcare services: including reproductive and family planning services.
“Addressing early/child marriage: through legislation and advocacy,”
By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah