By Frankie Ifop, Calabar
AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AHF Nigeria in collaboration with Cuso International, Cross River State Government, YouLead Nigeria, UNFPA, BrenCare Foundation and others gathered over 120 school children on Tuesday to mark the International Day of the Girl Child in Cross River State.
The event which took place in Calabar, the state capital was themed, “Keep the Promise to Girls”.
Addressing the young people, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong said the Cross River State Government is creating a safe space for the Girl Child. “We have built a Youth/Adolescent Friendly Centre domiciled in the General Hospital where all questions are being answered and care is also given. We are doing gender mainstreaming across all the health facilities where special attention is given to the Girl Child to ensure she lives her normal life”.
On his part, Dr. Echey Ijezie, Country Programme Director for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AHF Nigeria said the Non-governmental Organisation, NGO is looking at empowering the Girl Child as well as giving her a voice. “We are looking at empowering the Girl Child. We are looking at giving the Girl Child the voice. We are looking at ensuring that she have live skills by improving her negotiation skills – above all, ensuring that she’s able to spread her wings and fly.”
Speaking also was Dr. Kenneth Ehouzou, Head of UNFPA office in Cross River State who said for the issues relating to HIV/AIDS in Cross River State, majority of the population are the young people, both girls and boys. He added that, “What this kind of awareness event create is to have girls understand the value that they have – like building their capacity, empowering them so that they are able to negotiate what they want. When they are being approached, they should know their body and how to take care of themselves.”
Meanwhile, the representative of Cuso International, Emilia Okon, said Cuso have created Youth Friendly Centres in Calabar Municipality, Calabar South and Odukpani Local Government Area of the state to lend a hand to the Girl Child.
The Founder of BrenCare Foundation, Brenda Effiom suggested that sanitary pads be made free just like condoms and other contraceptives.
There was also an essay competition on Safe Spaces and what Safe Space means as organised by AHF Nigeria. Three laptops computers and best selling books were given to the three winners – all from different public schools.
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