Gombe state government in collaboration with Save the Children International has inaugurated a technical working group towards ending child marriage in the state.
The technical working group is expected to also review the national strategic plans on ending child marriage and adopt it in the state.
The state Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Hajiya Zainab Julde, stated this while speaking during the inauguration at Maidugu hotel Gombe.
She said child marriage is one of the developmental challenges affecting children in Nigeria and that prevention of child marriage remains a significant social, economic and health problem.
“Nigeria still faces the daunting task of harnessing its vast natural and human resources to effectively reduce the harmful practice and there is increased need especially now than ever before to evolve strategies, build structures and institutionalise social, legal and educational system reforms to facilitate a sustainable national response to end child marriage and all the associated ills.
“In 2015, an estimated 6 million girls were married by age 15 and 36 million girls were married by age 18 nationwide. Child marriage is more prevalent in northwest and northeast regions where 48 percent of girls were married by age 15 and 78 percent were married by age 18 years.
“National strategy document on ending child marriage in Nigeria will therefore suggests what can and should be done to end child marriage harnessing relevant policies and legislation, changing harmful cultural norms, supporting community programs, maximising foreign assistance, increasing access to girls education, providing young women with economic opportunities,” she said
Also speaking, the representative of Save the Children Nigeria, Prince Akpan Effiong, said in order to reduce child marriage, Save the Children has lined up programme; Reaching and Empowering Adolescents to make Informed Choices for their Health and Better Life for Girl project in Gombe state.
He said the project which would last for three years is being implemented in Gombe, Katsina and Zamfara states.
He said “The project targets adolescents age 10 to 19 in rural and hard to reach communities where discriminatory social and gender norms significantly affect the ability of adolescent girls and boys to make decision and access services to protect and improve their sexual and reproductive health and rights.”