21 October 2016

Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP)

Guest blog by Dr Chris Ugwu.


1.0       Background / Introduction

11th October of every year is declared the International Day of the Girl Child. 

It is a day set aside by the International Community to celebrate our girls, to appreciate their virtues and to recognize that the  world’s 1.1 billion girls are part of a large and vibrant global generation poised to take on the future for the improvement of our  society. It is also a day to sensitize our policy makers, government institutions and the general public to the fact that the  ambition for gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the preponderance of disadvantage and discrimination borne by girls everywhere, Nigeria inclusive, on a daily basis. 

These disadvantages manifest in male preference in our society; denial of education and health opportunities to girls in families, perpetuation of obnoxious customary practices including Female Genital Mutilation and denial of inheritance rights  among so many other discriminatory practices.


2.0       2016 Celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child and Launch of the “Country Profile: FGM in Nigeria”.

SIRP organized as part of this year’s event, celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child, the formal launch in Enugu State Nigeria of the “Country Profile: FGM in Nigeria.

In attendance at this year’s celebration were members of the 4th Estate of the Realm, the Media; Government Officials,  representative of Civil Society organizations and Obollo-Afor Community members. The Chairman of the occasion was Ogbuefi Chbukwuma Ogbonna; the Managing Director of Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) Radio and Television.


2.1       International Day of the Girl Child.

The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child is:

“Girls Progress = Goal’s Progress: A Global Data Movement”

Dr Ugwu submitted that it was only through explicit focus on collecting and analyzing girl- focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data, and using these in programme decisions that we can adequately measure and understand the  opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems. 

He therefore used the occasion of this year’s event to call on government, NGOs and Development Partners involved in Gender Issues to invest in Global Girls Data Movement, in order to:

  • Enhance national and sub-national capacity and systems to collect, analyze and disseminate gender data across the  age spectrum to improve statistics on gender based violence, adolescent pregnancy and reproductive health, informal  employment, entrepreneurship, unpaid work and other priorities for girls and young women.  
  • Dr Chris Ugwu, Executive Director, Society for the Improvement of Rural People read an address to celebrate the   occasion and formally launched the Nigeria’s FGM Country profile.   

He enjoined all present at the event to be part of the ultimate success story of the Global Girls Data Movement;  to  share ideas, reaffirm commitments and advance investments in any effort at collecting, analyzing and disseminating gender data across age spectrum to improve statistics on gender based violence including FGM.


2.2       Formal Launch of “Country Profile: FGM in Nigeria” at Obollo-Afor Udenu LGA of Enugu State as part of the Celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child

Dr Ugwu, Executive Director, Society for the Improvement of Rural people (SIRP) informed guests at the Obollo-Afor celebration that the formal launch of the FGM Country profile was organized in collaboration with an UK NGO ‘28 Too Many’.  The FGM Country Profile which was produced by 28 Too Many provided comprehensive information on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria, detailing current research and discussing the political, anthropological and sociological contexts in which FGM is practised in Nigeria. 

Stakeholders in FGM  Eradication movement, especially representatives of CSOs working on harmful, cultural practices were  provided with ‘T’ shirts for the occasion and  copies of the country profile (Executive Summary). Their email contact were  collected; as full copies would be forwarded to their contact.

Guests and Participants in the event were asked to utilize the country Profile as a Resource/Guide to shape their policies and  practices regarding the eradication of FGM particularly in the South-East of Nigeria, and in that way create a positive and sustainable change in FGM practice, especially within the context  of Sustainable Development Goals 2015 – 2030.


3.0       Comments from some Guests and Participant in the event

Ogbuefi Chukwuma Ogbonna, Managing Director, ESBS Enugu (Radio/TV) .

  • “I wish to commend SIRP and 28 Too Many for collaborating to celebrate this year’s International Day of the Girls Child  in a rural community. This is very significant because most FGM practices, here in Enugu State take place in the rural  areas because of their rigidity to customary practices. I thank 28 Too Many for putting together this compendium of unassailable data on FGM in Nigeria”
  • “We in ESBS Radio/TV will continue to partner with and support SIRP’s laudable program of ensuring that FGM practice  is eradicated in the South East of Nigeria. Keep it up SIRP. I join 28 Too Many to say “FGM  ... Lets end it”.

Mr Kyrian Agbodike, the Chief of Staff of Udenu Local Government area; Enugu State.

  • “Udenu Local Government Administration is very happy with SIRP for bringing the celebration of this year’s event of the International Day of the Girl Child to our Local Government. I was highly impressed with the celebration particularly the  rural medical mission which I saw with my  eyes. Women and old people are accessing medical services freely. I was also the more impressed with the FGM country Profile prepared by 28 Too Many. The Research work was thorough and  we in the Council will use it our policy development of “Prohibition of all obnoxious and Discriminatory practices against the Girls Child in Udenu Local Government Area."
  • "In all we want to assure SIRP of the Council’s readiness and commitment to partner with her to eliminate all harmful  traditional practices against the Girl Child including FGM in the Local Government."


4.0       Conclusion and Next Step(s) 

The celebration of this year’s International Day of the Girl Child was very eventful as this was the first time, SIRP was  celebrating it in the rural community.

It was also eventful because we had to make it a big media event; by ensuring that the Managing Director of the State’s  media organization, Enugu State Broad Casting Service (ESBS Radio/TV) was the chairman of the occasion; hence elaborate  coverage of the event happened in both the radio and television for 3 days in the State, 11-13 October 2016 .

This years’ event was also particularly unique because SIRP had the unique privilege of partnering with an UK based NGO – 28 Too Many to undertake a joint mission, namely to ensure the successful launch of the first ever, well documented,  systematically arranged and professionally rendered, resources material for use by practitioners, researchers and policy  makers in the area of Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria and beyond . And this happened successfully!

SIRP is grateful to 28 Too Many for involving us in this Project.