The National Economic Council has noted that investing in adolescent girls in Nigeria can deliver massive economic growth, poverty reduction and human development.
This was disclosed in a presentation by Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra, Chairman, National Population Commission on Thursday, the meeting of the Council in Abuja.
The report went on to suggest ways by which adolescent girls in Nigeria can be empowered.
What they are saying
The NEC was called to note that a “demographic dividend” can deliver massive economic growth, poverty reduction and human development. The demographic dividend arises when there is a favourable age structure with larger shares of workers and smaller shares of dependents.
The report stated that “The Demographic Transition is where the necessary conditions to capture a demographic dividend are created. This is characterized by declines in child mortality and fertility adding that The more rapid the fertility decline, the sooner and the larger is the demographic dividend.
It stated that it recognizes the importance of investing in adolescent girls to accelerate Nigeria’s demographic transition.
“Adolescents constitute population age 10 -19 years and by estimate, represent 23.4% of the total population of Nigeria.
”Meeting adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health and educational needs can fast-track Nigeria’s journey from being a pre-dividend to early dividend country.”
NEC also urged that addressing adolescent needs and empowering them can quicken the opening of the window of opportunity required to harness a demographic dividend.
Constraints that need to be addressed urgently include high fertility among adolescents which limits their productivity. Currently, the fertility rate among adolescent girls is at 106 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19. 43% of girls marry before age 18; 8% get married before age 15;19% of teenage girls have commenced childbearing; 27% in rural versus 8% in urban areas; and Adolescent girls contribute to the prevailing high maternal deaths in Nigeria.
NEC urged state governors to keep adolescent girls in school through the following:
- Adopt and implement free and compulsory education for girls: at least a completion of Senior Secondary Education in all the 36 states and the FCT. E.g., Conditional Cash transfers to ensure girls stay in school.
- Safe Schools: Ensure availability of appropriate amenities and security in all schools across the country. E.g., Lavatories, security fence.
- Empowerment: Increased investment in empowering women and girls in and out of school; working with the community and religious leaders in addressing social norms.
- Expand access to essential primary healthcare services: including reproductive and family planning services.
- Addressing early/child marriage: through legislation and advocacy.
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