Members of the Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs) Lagos Chapter, have emphasised the importance of all-round empowerment of the girl-child, which is fundamental to their proper growth and development. They mentioned key areas of empowerment to include gender-sensitive healthcare, nutrition and healthy lifestyles, education and gender equality and combating gender-based violence.
The female pharmacists made these remarks at the commemoration of the International Day of the Girl-Child on Wednesday, with the theme: “Our time is now: Out right, our future”, and sub-theme:” Different ways to preserve and empower the girl-child”
The keynote speaker, Pastor (Mrs) Modupe Owojuyigbe, director, Health Education and Health Promotion Services, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, in her keynote address titled “ Different ways to preserve and empower the girl-child”, advocated an all encompassing training for girls, which requires collaboration of all stakeholders.
Citing the Save the Children (2021) report, she stressed the need to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health in the Nigerian healthcare system, saying this should be of priority concern especially as it relates to unwanted pregnancies, maternal mortality and sexually transmitted diseases.
Owojuyigbe said “Our healthcare systems must be tailored accordingly, providing comprehensive reproductive health education, menstrual hygiene management, and accessible sexual and reproductive health services. These services not only promote physical well-being but also empower girls by helping them make informed choices about their bodies and their futures”.
She mentioned other means of empowering the girl-child such as provision of mental health support services, adequate nutrition and healthy eating habits, education and gender equality trainings, with exposure on ways of escaping gender -based violence.
The Chairman, Lagos ALPs, Pharm.(Dr) Afusat Adesina, explained the objective of the event, which is one of the association’s annual programmes, dedicated to the education and empowerment of secondary school girls.
On such occasions, she noted that they usually bring girls together with resource persons to speak to them on their important roles in the society, which is why they must be dedicated to their studies and career in order to become great professionals, wives and mothers in the society.
The event also featured a panel discussion which had three panellists in the persons of Pharm.(Chief) Ireoluwa Adewole-Ijatuyi; Pharm. (Mrs) Nafisatu Mijiyanwa and Pharm. (Mrs) Mutiat Adepoju. They shared different views on how to empower a girl-child for all-round development.
Chief Adewole-Ijatuyi, narrated her experience of grooming a neighbour’s child, with the goal of modelling her to become a decent and productive person in the society.
She said” I picked interest in a girl in my neighbourhood, who helps her mother in weaving, but she was sucy, troublesome and manifest all sort of vices. So I approached the mother and told her that an organisation will like to feature her girl in a contest, which will require her to make a video of what she is capable of doing.
“Being digitally incapacited, I had to get someone to help her with the video. Thereafter, I met Pharm. Gbenga Falabi, to make a donation of N10,000 to the girl, which he agreed to do.
“So the girl came with her father for the presentation, and since then, she turned a new leaf, became more responsible and decent, having realised that she is appreciated for what she can do”.
Pharm. Adepoju, on the other hand spoke on the roles of religious leaders and parents in empowering the girl-child. She noted the importance of having special forums in religious circles to teach and nurture girls on the values that are expected of them, while discouraging them from imitating bad examples in the society.
“ We should instil in them the culture of diligence, respect, hard work, perseverance, and godliness. We must tell them why they shouldn’t follow other girls in selling their bodies for money.
“There should also be entrepreneurial development programmes in churches and mosques for the empowerment of the girl-child, where they discover and shape their talents for productive activities” she advised.
She however charged parents and leaders not to abandon the boy-child while trying to empower the girl child, because if the boys are not trained along, they will become menace to the society in the future.
The duo of Pharm.(Dr) Chinyere Ogudu and Pharm (Mrs) Oluwafunmilayo Agbeniyi, who were the moderators of the programme, appreciated all participants for their efforts in empowering girl-child, as they urged the facilitators not to rest on their oars in developing girls in their communities.