By Asmau Ahmad
United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed and Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate/UN Messenger of Peace, have underscored the need for collaborative support for the full implementation of girl-child education in Nigeria.
They made the call at a news conference held on Wednesday at the UN House, Abuja.
Amina Mohammed commended Yousafzai for transcending cultures and variations through her campaign for girl-child education worldwide.
According to her, Yousafzai delivered the strongest of voice in her message 10 years ago, saying one child, one teacher, one book, and one pen could change the world.
She said, “What is more important is that Malala has lived those words every day and I saw that in Borno. It is not just the fact that she had been in Borno, but there has been progress since her first visit to the place, through her foundation for quality education.
“Malala and the UN partnership is not just a dream, but a fundamental human right and we must make it right for everyone.
“Leaders in every community have to heed Malala’s words and back that up by investing in education; they need to do that now.
“This is specially so for the 129 million girls not enrolled in school today, and for those striving to overcome barriers for quality and safe education as well as all forms of discrimination against them.”
The UN deputy chief described Yousafzai as one who “is inspirational and whose compassion and courage could bring about a world with less hate and more humility.”
Also, “a world with less bigotry and more equality, less ignorance and more education, and knowledge through lessons” drawn from her messages.
Speaking, Yousafzai who narrated her ordeal, said she was shot and nearly killed for speaking out against injustice.
She decried the challenges faced by about 120 million girls who have been denied the right to education due to poverty, patriarchy, climate, and conflict, all of which inspired her to create awareness on the importance of girl-child education.
According to her, every girl in every country has right to educational opportunity.
Yousafzai said, “I stood on the podium of the UN and with optimism of a 16-year-old declared that one child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.
“I tell you today what I did not know then. One child, with means of encouragement can’t teach the world.
“Neither any president or prime minister can. One activist, one parent, no one can change the world on their own. What is true is that change can begin with just one person.
“But to build a world where every child can have access to 12 years of quality education, we must join forces, bring girls and government, activists and educationists, parents and community leaders together.”
She advised people to always hold their leaders accountable over budgets and policies relating to promoting girl-child education.
“We must ask our leaders, those who claim to care about gender equality and education, why their policies do not match their words.
“We must call again and again at every opportunity for leaders to prioritise education. We must also look beyond government to realise our dream for our communities.
“I believe the problems the girl-child faces will be solved if we break the stronghold of patriarchy, misogyny, which disguise as culture, tradition, and religion.
“We need fathers like mine who can stand up for their daughters’ rights, mothers who speak up for them and brothers who celebrate their wins.
“We need clerics who can speak out against people who hold women and girls back, community of people who do not tolerate harm or discrimination against girl-child, but protect their rights.”