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“Girls Get Equal” to transform power relations for 10m girls by 2024

Plan International Nigeria has launched a campaign to ensure some 10 million girls can “learn, lead, decide and thrive” by 2024.

The campaign, Girls Get Equal, is part of a global campaign by the parent humanitarian organization, Plan International, to transform power relations in favour of girls for at least 100 million girls around the world.

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The organization said no real progress can be made unless the “millions of girls and young women are safe and healthy and are educated and empowered to bring about the change they want to see in their world.”

“If we fail to plan for young people, particularly young girls whose lives are impacted by a patriarchal society, we plan to fail,” said Hussaini Abdu, country director of Plan International Nigeria, at the launch of the campaign in Abuja on Monday.

The organization has been working in humanitarian and development contexts for the last five years in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno—the three states worst hit by the Boko Haram insurgency—where young women and adolescent girls have been the major victims of the crisis.

“We are talking about people who have been disconnected before the [insurgency] and during the [insurgency], their depth of disconnection has increased,” said Abdu.

Up to 10,000 women and girls may have been kidnapped and subjected to any form of sexual violation in the period of the insurgency in the northeast.

At present, women hold only 5 in 100 seats throughout Nigeria’s parliament; six in 10 of all children out of school are girls; 44 in 100 girls will be married before they turn 18; 84 in 100 children are disciplined with violence, according to data curated by Plan.

Girls Get Equal is a main plank of a five-year strategy, estimated at $120m—that’s N48.1 billion—unveiled by Plan International Nigeria.

The permanent secretary of the federal ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Anietu Aliyu, says the plan “will form part of working document in the ministry for formulation of policies as they affect girls.”

The objectives of the plan are to see young women, girls and adolescents empowered to be active drivers of change; get increased access to and complete formal and informal education; enjoy quality sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It will also seek to provide protective environment and access to age- and gender-appropriate services to respond to or prevent disaster risks, violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Lawmakers have supported increased funding for family planning commodities—N1 billion in the current budget, up from N300m last year and earmarked N850m in the 2020 budget for therapeutic food to treat severe acute malnutrition, up from N250m in the 2019 budget, said Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, who chairs the Senate health committee.

“We hope to be able to work with organisations to make their programmes align with our priorities,” he said.

Senator Sadiq Umar, who chairs the Senate committee on rules and bills, said support for girls to survive and thrive must be institutionalized, adding, “We need more bills to protect girls.”

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