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Adanna Elechi: The Girl Child We Must Never See Again



Growing up privileged kept me in the dark about a lot of things going on around me that I definitely needed to see. For every morning, I woke up, dressed nice for school, had breakfast and also picked my lunch box filled with food and have my mum drive me to school, there was a girl child going through the opposite.  I never really paid attention, but now I know that I never want to see that girl child again.

As a kid, I went to my village a lot, almost every weekend and I saw children in tattered clothes, who didn’t attend school. I knew because I was very inquisitive. We would sort some of our clothes and give them once in a while. These kids especially the girls were always wandering in bushes looking for firewood. They also came to our compound to fetch water. In the city, I also saw kids like that hawking on the streets on my way to or back from school. I knew there was a disconnect, but I really didn’t understand the concept of poverty. Looking back, I figure I took some of the things I had back then for granted.

Even though I would love to talk about poverty in general, I am more interested in the girl child and how it affects her the most. Studies have shown that the girl child is most likely to remain in poverty, continue to wander in bushes in search of firewood, continue to wear tattered hand-me-downs for the rest of her life.

This is because her chances of getting educated are slim and in many cases non-existent. Even when there is an opportunity for her to go to school, she is likely going to be frustrated out of it by her chores at home. In many cases , there is an urgent need for her to be married off at a certain age, to raise her own family. This was her grandmother’s fate, her mother’s and will likely be hers. This is the girl child we must strive to never see again. We have the power to end this vicious cycle.

It is really sad that in 2018 when schools are in session, we still see underage children especially girls in farms not for school practical but for survival. We see them hawking on the streets, praying for new police and military checkpoints so they can have access to more customers. This is 2018, less than two years to vision 2020 of the ECOWAS and other Millenium Development Goals.

The remedy to this vicious cycle of poverty lies in education, which is the right of every child. One may say education is the birthright of the rich because of exorbitant fees paid in schools around the country, but even when these fees are reduced and poorer people have access to it the girl child is still left behind. Her only sin is the fact she was born a female.

Educating the girl child is of utmost importance to the survival of the human race, a fact we have blatantly refused to accept. Studies have shown that if all women completed primary education, the under-five mortality rate will fall by 15% in low-lower-middle income countries thereby saving the lives of one million children. Also if more women completed secondary education, the risk of acquiring HIV is reduced. This goes a long way in helping in the global fight against HIV and Aids.

Growing up seeing these children especially those in my age grade getting limited by circumstances beyond their control is really heartbreaking. Poverty lingering from generation to generation with little hope of getting broken is not just detrimental to the people living in it but the country as a whole. Without ending it by putting more girls in school, we will never move from a third world country to another level, instead, we will continue to sink lower.

I also do not want to see a girl child getting genitally mutilated all in the name of culture. It is just sad that in this time and age, we still see cases of girls being mutilated with the excuse of curbing sexual urge. How lame is this excuse for subjecting these children to painful procedures which affect them later in life? We must never see genitally mutilated girls again.  We must never see young girls in labor rooms and in VVF treatment centers; they belong in the classroom.  They should be given a chance to explore life and decide what they want for themselves.

I am impressed by individuals and organizations that have come out to pursue the cause and create awareness around it. I am intrigued by the ONE campaign which I first heard about on Big Brother Naija (now roll your eyes) back in 2017.

I encourage everyone to join this fight against the oppression female children faces in this part of the world. It is a good cause for every well-meaning feminist to be a part of.  We have a lot more work to do as feminists in this part of the world and we should rise up and help our sisters.

Let us unite in making sure we never see a girl child out of school or getting married when her mates are breaking boundaries and shattering glass ceiling around the world.

Educating our young girls is the foundation for Nigeria’s growth and development.” – Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Adanna Elechi is an entrepreneur, writer, blogger and information enthusiast who believes in changing the world one post at a time. She is passionate about nutrition and wellness and blogs about it on Connect with her on all social platforms @adee_elechi


  1. Michy

    August 14, 2018 at 11:34 am

    This is a really good article. I believe that for this to work in Nigeria, the education has to start with their parents. Quite a lot of them, especially in rural areas believe the education of the girl child is a waste of money – their reason been that she will get married and her husband’s family will be the chief beneficary of her education.

  2. Aare farmland

    August 14, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    Maybe the writer is just familiar with the issue. Like michy said, the home and immediate environment plays a great part in a child’s upbringing. If the family institution is broken the child will be affected. If the parents do not value education, the child will be affected, if this trend is familiar in the immediate environment, the child will be greatly affected. Nigeria’s official stance on education is actually anti-discriminatory may even be mandatory for primary school age students in some states. Also, the public schools are broken and this will affect the child. Middle to high income parents in Lagos send their wards to private school. The public schools in the city are now dominated by children from poorer households, or wards living with aunts, uncles or strangers (young house helps), this young people have jobs at home. So the education provided has gone down, teacher and student morale is down. the children are stressed out and tired at school. Basically, the public school system is broken and will affect the child.

    In addition, a move to make the girl child a woman issue will diminish the issue in the country if women do not organize properly into a political system/platform but stay at the peripheral with women leader titles. Because the political institutions and the process is broken and idiots who think about themselves not a women’s ministry issue are governing. We had better life and family support but they were termed women’s issue even though they are societal issues. Buhari, atiku, saraki who are 70 or soon reaching 60 will not suddenly wake up and shout girl child education unless they want to fake it. People who care should identify candidates who care and organize under a political system to see the candidates presented for election. Lobbying by women rights agencies(who are paid through aid to do just that) will not do the trick. For example people who started the real feminist movement merged with the civil rights movement to get some laws enacted and still form a bloc within the democratic party.

  3. JHarris

    March 26, 2019 at 7:18 am

    I believe the era of the girl child issue is passed. Environment seems to be the major factor today. Just like church, schools in Nigeria today has more girls than boys. We already grow passed that ideology, I think what we should focus on is improving the standard of education and enlightening the Northern Nigerians.

  4. UDEANI Ikechukwu John

    April 9, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Well articulated write up. However, it should be “the CHILD”. Not just the “girl child”. If we don’t stress on and attain this balance, I don’t think we will achieve much.

  5. Joy

    April 17, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    Every child is my child.That’s my ideology.Be it the girl or boy child. Our education system must be reviewed to suit the need of today’s child

  6. mariam musa

    May 15, 2019 at 11:48 am

    iam a girl child per say who would love to go to school at all cost but i don’t have d means, i which i can even see a little job to help lift me n my family up, i really want to go to school but who will help me? the question is, has my parents finished feeding us? talk more of education,, is a pity that i can’t do what every young child does.


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