President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday condemned girl child marriage, saying it affects on the victims’ education and their lives.
He also advocated for more investment in the education of the girl child, insisting that there is no reason why the girl child should not have the same access to education like their male counterparts.
Obasanjo also pointed that women are still lagging behind in the areas of adequate women participation in politics and appointments into public offices.
He spoke when three women groups paid him a courtesy call at his private residence, located at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta.
The Groups were the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), United Nations Women and the Women Entrepreneurs and Professionals Development Network (WEPDN).
The meeting was facilitated by the Global Convener of WEPDN who is also the immediate past National President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Iyalode Alaba Lawson.
Present were some officials of UNIDO, including the country Director, Jean Bakale and the Country Representative of UN women, Ms. Comfort Lamptey.
Obasanjo who stressed the important role that women play in the society, insisting that men are by no means superior to women, saying “women are not by any means pushovers.”
The former President said, “As men, we like to deceive ourselves as masters. When I was growing up, in my culture, there was this popular saying that men have nine bones while women have seven bones. I don’t know where we got that idea from. It is part of what we say to ourselves to try and boost up our egos.
“Women form more than 50 percent of Nigeria’s population and therefore the role of women must be understood, must be celebrated. There are three areas where I believe all of us in this country have to work on.
”Second one is child marriage, when you have to marry off the girl child at the age of 13, 14 of course, we know that her education is short circuited and when her education is short circuited it affects her for the rest of her live.”
“One, is female child education. We are still lagging behind and there is no reason, culturally or religiously and even socially why the girl child should not have the same opportunities, the same access to education as the male child.”
“And the third, is making sure we get enough women in political-elective offices and political appointments, not only political, but also in the private sector.”
“Women are not by any means pushovers. We know that in what they call the informal sector, when you remove women from this informal sector then your formal sector is non existing.”
“These are the issues I think we all have to work on and I’m particularly happy that we have young women like you and those of you who are enterprising here with me. You can always count on my support,” Obasanjo said.
Ms. Lamptey agreed with Obasanjo’s view and called for positive change.
She said, “The issues of early child marriage is a big one here in Nigeria, we know that more girls are out of school, and when girls are out of school their education is limited and their opportunities are also limited and that also sets back the development of the country”.