Action Health Incorporated to Hold Talk on Empowering out-of-School Girls in Lagos Slums

Action Health Incorporated (AHI), a non-profit organisation dedicated to working in partnership with governments, parents, communities, and young people to promote the health and development of Nigeria’s youths, will on 8 September, 2015, hold a high-level dialogue to discuss the scale and magnitude of the challenges faced by slum dwelling out-of-school adolescent girls.

The event will help mobilise support and investments for a harmonised approach to addressing these challenges through policy, programming and investments by all stakeholders in Lagos state. Key stakeholders comprising policy makers, private sector, donors, community members, media, civil society and young people are expected to attend.

According to the Lagos State Development Plan (2012-2025), there are over 100 slums in Lagos. In these slums, many of the residents lack basic amenities, access to services and opportunities, with a vicious cycle of poverty and deprivation. Findings from a 2010 research carried out by Action Health Incorporated (AHI) among 480 adolescent girls in Iwaya – a densely populated slum in Lagos, showed that almost half (45.2 percent) of girls aged 10 -14 had never attended school while none of the girls surveyed reached beyond secondary school level. This finding reveals the rising demographic of out-of-school adolescent girls and this should be a concern for all.

Despite an increase in the number of programmes supporting girl-child education and empowerment in Lagos state, out-of-school adolescent girls living in slum communities remain marginalised. These girls lack opportunity, safe spaces and other services necessary for their healthy development. They need formal and/or non-formal education, sexual and reproductive health information and services, vocational skills and business-related training, as well as protection from sexual abuse and violence as these will help reduce their vulnerability while protecting and improving their well-being and that of their communities.

This meeting coinciding with the commemoration of International Literacy Day with the theme Literacy and Sustainable Society, and coming ahead of the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by Heads of Sates and Governments later in the month in New York, is timely and critical towards ensuring the vision of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of Lagos State of ‘making Lagos work for all’ especially towards accomplishing many of the SDGs, particularly Goal 5 -achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Effective investment in out-of-school adolescent girls is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do. When girls are empowered with age-appropriate information, skills and resources it creates a multiplier effect of sustainable change that benefits families, communities, and nations.

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde