The economic situation we find ourselves today is dire. Unemployment is ramping up as about 3 million people have lost their jobs since the beginning of this administration. Infrastructural decay and a tepid, at best detached fiscal and monetary environment stunting production. The impact of all these and more on the pocket and the standard of living can best be witnessed.
Let me bore you a little. Health care delivery is today not better than what was obtainable in the pre-colonial times; education is comatose, leading to the worse levels of capacity utilization. A bourgeoning population being herded by paucity in leadership and seeming visionless drive towards collective immolation.
Let me further annoy you. The Doctor-Patient ratio is at its lowest since pre-modern times, drastically increasing mortality rate, and lowering life expectancy which they say today is 60 years and should be dropping with the terrible access to robust medical services. It is in this sad state that the ‘girl-child’ comes into the equation.
The unsung hero in our socio-political malaise is the long-suffering ‘Girl Child’. In most homes, she has been thrown into the forefront of economic survival; pushed to emerge the sole economic avatar in millions of households, and exposed to the risks that come with the urge or should I say the need to ensure the survival of her family unit.
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She finds it very easy to hold down small retail jobs. The bastion of the growing service industry fed by the huge population of low earners. The girl-child serves as the sales representative, model, showgirl, marketer, business development executive and key door opener on behalf of millions of SME.
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She earns an average of N40,000 to N100,000 depending on the industry and her personal negotiating skills. As a society, we are bereft of clear statistics, otherwise, we would have loved to see just what percentage of the workforce this new and emerging demography represents – the 16 to 35 year old single, barely educated girl child. However, from very rough estimates, they make up the sole breadwinners of over 70% of today’s households in the country.
Their efforts come with the downsides of sexual molestation, instable relationships, frustrations and near start credible career possibilities.
Today, I dare say that the 16 to 35-year-old Girl Child is the single most important workforce demography holding down business, helping them grow by their sheer efforts and determination to save their families from starvation and hunger. They are unsung, barely noticed and not protected but still carry on with their purpose in life.
Just take a cursory visit to one of the huge shopping malls that litter the country and see just how many of these types you will see, selling, pushing, holding down accounts, carrying bulk goods, helping businesses all so that they can keep their parents healthy, pay the school fees of their little ones, keep the family running and taking care of themselves.
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They can be found in all sectors – fashion, retail, car sales, manufacturing, farming, entertainment, education, health, and politics. They keep the engines of the economy destroyed from a myriad of debilitating economic policies grinding.
As a result of their efforts, they have emerged the most at risk groupings in the workforce – poor work conditions, long hours, and poor welfare conditions. Since most of their jobs are kind of below the radar, there are no workplace compensations, pension, and other such welfare policies are news to them, no protection whatsoever. It’s a sad tale for such a major economic force. Truly sad.