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By Ankeli Emmanuel (In Sokoto State)

Female students of Nana Girls College, Sokoto has been urged to remain dedicated to their studies and not allow distraction of any sort.

Giving the advise during a one day workshop by the Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development on Gender and Social Norms for selected schools in Sokoto, the Principal of the college, Aisha Abdulkadir, added that female education remained not only important but necessary.

The Principal who was represented by her vice, Muhammed Adam, disclosed that they see the advocacy from the Sultan's Foundation on Gender Based Violence (GBV) Harmful Practice (HP), Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) as well as Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) as a very rare privilege for their students.

"We see this advocacy workshop as a rare privilege for our students, hence if you are educated about something, you are been given the knowledge of how to identify and protect yourselves from such. And my advise to all of you our young girls is that you should marry your books for now and not allow anybody deceive you".

The one day workshop is a spotlight Initiative sponsored by United Nations Women and implemented by Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development for selected colleges and Tertiary schools in Sokoto.

Earlier in his welcome remark, the Programme Officer of Sultan Foundation for Peace, Malam Muhammed Galandanci, lamented that destroying adolescent girls means destroying the entire society.

Galadanci who stressed that cases of rape, and other Gender Based Violence is no doubt on the increase in the society, with Sokoto not an exception, added that a law have been signed in Sokoto to protect women, girls and children against all forms of violence.

He also assured that the position of the Sokoto Child Protection Law provides for life imprisonment for perpetrators of rape and adequate punitive measures for those engaging in GBV.

On her part, the resource person for the workshop, Barrister Rashidat Muhammed, said the time to stop all forms of GBV, HP and VAWG is now. She is the first female lawyer to own a law chamber in the States of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara. Muhammed had earlier suggested for a separate Court for the trial of GBV, SGBV perpetrators.

While calling for all inclusive collaboration to stop such crimes against humanity, Barrister Rashidat Muhammed further appealed to parents, especially, mothers and the society to change their perception about placing priority on the boy child as being more superior in the home.

Said Rashidat, "Men are no doubt heads of the family. However, equal opportunity for education and care should be given to all irrespective of gender. As a nation, Nigeria has a severally poor record of access to basic education and this is especially found in the northern parts of the country".

While stressing that the issue of child marriage is a very troubling example of GBV in the north, Rashidat also added that, Female Genital Mutilation, Human Trafficking as well as Harmful Widowhood Traditions are equally prevalent in other regions of the country.

In her calls for continuous awareness creation on the subject matter, Rashidat, the force advocate of GBV, VAWG, HP and SGBV also admonished all and sundry to name and shame perpetrators to serve as deterrent to others

The District Head of Gagi, (Sarkin Yakin Gagi, Sani Umar Jabbi, said he is always honoured to stand before students to talk to them on issues of GBV, HP, VAWG amongst other crimes. He further appealed to the girl child to be closed to their parents, listen to them, follow their advise and distance themselves from unholy company.

Reacting to the workshop, one of the participating students, Humaira Musa, thanked the United Nations Women and the Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development for finding their school worthy of such advocacy. NNL.

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