The Lagos State Educating Nigerian Girls in New Enterprise, ENGINE II programme coordinator, Francisca Olusola has called on the government to implement strategy plans, policies geared towards the improvement of marginalized girls.
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Olusola who spoke recently at a novelty match, as part of activities marking the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence organized by the ENGINE II, a DFId supported program under the Girls Education Challenge, stated that the challenge with locating marginalized girls was enormous.
At the novelty match that had in attendance community leaders ENGINE II participants and learning centre facilitators, including the Media and Police among others. The ENGINE programme coordinator explained that the match was aimed at creating awareness about gender based violence; encouraging communities to take a stand against rape and share contact information of organisations where victims can get help.
Olusola noted that "ENGINE II works with over 6,000 girls in Lagos State to improve their literacy and life skills and to help their life outcomes. We also provide a supportive environment around the girls to make sure they are protected from all forms of violence. Action Health Incorporated is a partner on the programme specifically working with marginalized girls across five local government areas in Lagos State. Epe, Ojo, Alimosho, Koshofe and Shomolu in Bariga local government area, the project is supported by Mercy Corps, lead implementing partner in Nigeria.
Speaking more on the level of impact the initiative was making in the lives of the girl child, she stated that:"While we can't quantify the success stories of ENGINE II programme as some of our girls have gone up to further their education; some are doing well in businesses and some are also retraining other girls.
"However, the challenges remain that some of these girls still have to struggle to fend for themselves. This, coupled with some of the expectations of the society on the female child that see some families prioritizing income earning for the girls more than them learning. This is one of the reasons for the awareness of community support system for our girls.
"We therefore want the government to implement policies and programmes targeted at marginalized girls. Why because one can work within the school population, but out of school girls are marginalized because locating them are difficult. And it takes specific effort and programming to make sure that these girls needs are been met. That is why we are saying that there has to be concerted effort to make sure that these girls' life outcomes are improved. "She said.
For Mercy Corps Monitoring and Evaluating Team representative, Tosin Alemere, the ENGINE II programme implemented by Mercy Corps is aimed at supporting marginalized girls transition to the next level of education by improving their learning outcome, social and economic standing.
According to her, "One of the ways we support marginalized girls is by making them attend ENGINE centres where they are taught literacy, numeracy, and financial education and life skills. Aside that, we teach them various forms of protection skills to enable them understand the shades of abuses; tell if and when they have been abused and to enable them speak out."
The Director of Agency for Mass Education, Lagos State, Mrs. Oluwakemi Kalesanwo who was represented by Mr Abiodun Oshideku who gave the keynote address reiterated that the novelty match was aimed at educating and sensitizing people on gender violence, with a focus on girls that are out of school.
His words, " Some of them have this cultural attitude of keeping quiet, so this program will seek of enable them to speak out, expose them on who to meet and solve such challenges when they arise.
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"In the area of literacy, our agency has been collaborating with Mercy Corps in providing centers, learning spaces for them through Lagos SUBEB and through districts in our primary and secondary Schools. And we have been providing technical assistance.