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February 24, 2024
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NGO calls for increased investment in girl-centred programmes

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By Oluwafunke Ishola

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Hacey Health Initiative, has stressed the need for increased investment in girl-centred initiatives, programmes and advocacy to promote and protect girls’ rights.

Oluwatomi Olunuga, HACEY’s PAVE Project Lead, said this during the training of adolescent school girls at Mainland Local Government on Friday, in Lagos.

PAVE Project is a girl-centred, community-based safe space programme aimed at supporting teenage girls by providing them with essential health, financial, and life skills information, services, and tools.

Olunuga said this would foster an inclusive and empowering environment for girls to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to shape their futures and address issues of access to rights, information and services.

She cited a UNICEF report that showed that adolescent girls in Africa, aged 15 to 19, were almost twice as likely as boys not enrolled in any training, work, or education.

“Globally, girls account for 75 per cent of new HIV infections among adolescents, and 15 per cent of young women aged 20 to 24 become mothers before 18.

“The challenges include a heightened risk of sexual violence, limited access to sexual and reproductive health information, services, and educational opportunities.

“Discriminatory social structures compound these issues, exacerbating negative outcomes for girls,” she said.

In response to these social issues, Olunuga said HACEY with support from Empower UK, was implementing the second phase of the Platform for Amplifying the Voices and Empowerment of Girls project.

“The project establishes safe spaces where girls can access knowledge and resources related to sexual health, mental health, and career development. They receive mentoring and are referred to additional support services as needed,” she said.

Olunuga explained that implementation of the project was in Lagos and Ogun states, targeting both in-school and out-of-school girls aged 12 to 19 years.

“The overall goal is to support 2,000 girls, enabling them to realise their full potential by providing them with the support, knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to make informed decisions regarding their health, finances, and personal development.

“If hundreds of empowered girls amplify their voices across Nigeria, certainly, communities will benefit immensely in terms of health and economic outcomes,” she said.

Also, Gift Sunday, a student of Akoka Junior High School, said the training instilled life skills, decision making, self-confidence in her.

Sunday appealed to the government to provide more counsellors that would enlighten girls on hygiene and sexual and reproductive health issues. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Abiemwense Moru/Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

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