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Girl-child Education, welfare and women empowerment, a priority to Ganduje -Hajiya Yaddada

Hajiya Yaddada Mai Kano is the Commissioner, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Kano State. In this interview with YAKUBU SALISU she explains the state government’s commitment to bettering the lives of women in the state in areas such as education and empowerment, as well as the role of the ministry in matters that have to do with women.

Is your ministry collaborating with the state government to ensure that the girl-child is given more opportunities to education?
The provision of education to the girl-child as you know is a very important thing to any serious and focused administration like ours under the leadership of his Excellency Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje the governor of Kano State.

That is why a lot of approaches and efforts are being made in the educational sector especially at the basic level which is the foundation for any solid education.

You’ll observe that a lot structures in terms of class rooms are being provided, teaching and learning materials are being provided, teachers’ well fare is being taken care of.

So many things are being done, the communities are sensitised, stake holders are being called upon to give their own contributions.

It is in order to ensure effective service delivery that the formation of education promotion committee was set up by the Ganduje administration.

On our part, the Ministry for Women Affairs, when you hear women of course you are talking about the mothers who are the custodian of their children, whenever we have a program or any opportunity to meet with the mothers, we cease the opportunity to enlighten them on the need for the girl-child education.

It doesn’t stop at that, we also collaborate closely with key stakeholders that provide basic education like SUBEB, ministry of education, including the science and technical school board and other agencies like the state agency for mass education.

We ensure that female children are allowed to acquire formal education like their male counterparts which at the end of the day will be of great help to the state and nation at large.

What do you have to say about the popular belief that a girl child’s education is nothing but waste of resources as she ends up in the kitchen?
It is absolutely wrong; the sky would be her limit if given same opportunities given to the male child. It is true that some people have preference over which child of the family should be educated, but we don’t believe in that.

The girl child should not be limited to domestic activities at home. By the nature of our society, the girl-child is being seen and trained on how to become a wife and mother in someone else’s home as she grows up, so right from childhood, the emphasis is on marriage, forgetting the fact that education goes a long way for a better marital life.

I would suggest that governments at all level provide more girls’ schools where proper attention would be accorded them with all the necessary teaching and learning materials and other facilities made available as well as adequate security provided for them so that we can have more educated girls, women and mothers in the society.

Am proud to say that His Excellency Abdullahi Ganduje is committed to providing and encouraging the girl child education in the state as he has demonstrated this just a few days ago by providing scholarships under the Global Partnership for Education where over 46,000 female children have started enjoying free scholarship.

With such commitments, we are sure that very soon we will have more educated women in the state public service and affairs.

Despite efforts put in place by the state government to ensure that the girl-child obtain formal education, some parents prefer to keep them at home where they end up on the streets hawking. What do you think is the cause?
Poverty and most often ignorance; most parents who send their children to hawk don’t do so out of interest, but are being forced to do so as a result of hardship which is biting so hard in the society.

That is why the governor a man of wisdom has deemed it necessary to empower the mothers or women in the state, by doing so, the girl-child would be allowed to enroll and remain in school.

Also, some parents keep their girl-child out of school as a result of ignorance or some erroneous beliefs that a girl-child’s place is the kitchen or home where she is being overburdened with house chores, like I have said before thinking that this is a way of preparing her for her future home.

By sending the child out to the street, one is no doubt exposing them to dangers of all kinds such as rape which has become a menace in the society.

So if we are able to tackle poverty among mothers I assure you we would have more girls in school and the governor is doing just that.

We are also working with the traditional institutions who have direct contact with people at the rural areas whom have developed the attitude of not allowing their female children to enroll in schools despite efforts being put in place by the state government.

And in this regard, the Emir of Kano Sanusi II can be described as an advocate for the girl child education. We hope that soon, a penalty would be set aside for parents who deliberately refuse to enroll their children.

I wouldn’t mind if I am invited to a program to share my experiences with the general public particularly to the rural people on what I went through, but here I am today Alhamdulillah.

It’s no longer news that the issue of sexual assault or rape has become a menace in the society. How is your ministry helping in the fight against this ugly trend?
Yes, the ministry is working with civil societies, traditional institutions and other stake holders to see that this evil act if not completely eradicated is reduced to the barest minimum.

The police, vigilante groups and other security agencies are all involved in this fight. We have our social workers in Murtala Muhammad Hospital’s sexual assault reference centre who receive information on cases of rape.

Once we get such information, we don’t allow the perpetrators to go free. We take it upon ourselves and stand by the victim till the end of the case to ensure that justice is being done.

You are aware that there is an existing law that whoever is found guilty of the crime is to spend 14 years in prison regardless of the position of that person in the society, we follow such cases to the logical conclusion. It’s a fight that requires everyone to contribute.

How would you describe the fight against child abuse?
It’s not an easy one. It’s very challenging because sometimes you see or hear about people whom in your wildest imagination would never believe to be involved in such an act are the ones involved, but the truth is we don’t care about anyone’s status in the society, once you are caught we make sure you get the right judgement.

But the most annoying thing is the attitude of some of our people, talking about the family members of the victim who make things difficult for us by hiding the crime or not showing interest in getting justice for their daughter over the fear of stigmatisation.

They see it as a shameful thing for them to come out and say their child has been raped. By doing so we are simply encouraging the perpetrators of such actions.

So we engage in sensitisation and counselling the family members on the need to help expose such persons. The issue that the girl would not get married after the case is reported is not true.

I have directed all my social workers to do more to educate family members of rape victims to understand that it’s an accident and something done without the consent of the girl.

If God has destined that child to marry and have children she will definitely have even after passing through such ugly experience.

To what would you attribute the rise in the cases of rape in the society?
Superstitious and moral decadence. Most often people who engaged in such hideous acts believing that by defiling minors, they could become rich, famous and a whole lot of other beliefs of theirs.

I remember vividly some perpetrators of such giving such excuses. That is why we keep calling on our Ulamas to intensify efforts at educating their followers on the need for a morally up right society.

By so doing, people would be reminded of religious stance on such matters which at the end, people whom are thinking about committing such barbaric act will have a rethink.

So far so good, how many convictions have you been able to secure this year?
I am happy to tell you that the ministry at the moment is compiling a list of such cases. About a week ago, we sent out letters to key stakeholders and security agencies whom are assisting in the fight against child abuse, be it rape or trafficking and agencies such as NAPTIP, NDLEA, and the ministry of health have already provided us with statistics in their positions.

So we are awaiting the response of about three more agencies to furnish us with the requested data which will be used for planning purposes.

It will enable us proffer solutions to social vices such as rape, trafficking, robbery, homicide etc. So at the moment I can’t give a precise number as efforts are being made to put together the figures.

Would you say that the Ganduje’s administration has favored women in the state?
Laugh… Isn’t it obvious? To say the truth a lot has been done by the Ganduje’s administration to encourage the women politically, economically, socially and in fact, in all ramifications.

So much has been done and a lot more is yet to be done as far as women empowerment is concerned. You are a living witness to the different political appointments given to women in the state such as the position of the Accountant General of the state, (AG) my humble self, the commissioner for women affairs, the commissioner for budget and planning, permanent secretaries which I think we have about seven of them in the state and other various female special assistants in the state.

A lot has been done to empower women particularly at the grassroots level.

I remember sometimes ago in the month of March when we celebrated the international women literacy day which was anchored by her excellency the wife of the executive governor of Kano State, Dr. Hafsat Abdullahi Ganduje.

On that day she said we would not spend the day talking, but something should be done to empower the women and 484 women were drawn from each of the wards in the state and were empowered with sealing machines, 10Kg of flour and spaghetti for them to be economically independent.

Another empowerment program which was done at the local government level across the 44 LGA followed suit and more 200 women benefited.

You know his Excellency has passion for the women. Whatever project he is embarking on on empowerment he makes sure that 50-60 percent is allocated to the women in the state.

He has never given us anything below 50 percent. Women are also trained on tomato prevention in order to overcome scarcity of tomato in the state and over 300 women have been trained.

Female prison inmates are also not left behind. Empowerment equipments have been provided in some prison yards which are used by the inmates to learn various skills of their choices.

Women suffering from BVF whom are under the care of the state government are also equipped with vocational skills which will be of great benefit to them and the society whenever they are discharged and return home.

There is also the intention of providing ICT training with Digital bridge institute and 100 youths are to benefit and the governor has directed that 50 of them should be female.

At the moment my staffers are meeting, planning to finalise the flag off of a gigantic empowerment program that will touch the lives of 6,700 women in the state.

Remember that 50 ladies are currently sponsored by the Ganduje administration to learn auto mechanic in Kaduna with PAN. We all know that it’s not even a business our male love to engage in, but his Excellency has introduced something new by including the female.

I was in Kaduna about a month ago to pay them a visit and I must confess that they are doing well. Soon we will have female mechanics in the state.

I really wish to thank the governor for all his support and opportunities given to women. We wish him success and call upon others to emulate him by carrying women along in the affairs of their state and life at large.

If we are able to tackle poverty among mothers I assure you we would have more girls in school and the governor is doing just that. We are also working with the traditional institutions who have direct contact with people at the rural areas whom have developed the attitude of not allowing their female children to enroll in schools despite efforts being put in place by the state government and in this regard, the Emir of Kano Sanusi II can be described as an advocate for the girl child education.

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