Investing in adolescent girls can boost economic growth and reduce poverty – NEC

The National Economic Council has noted that investing in adolescent girls in Nigeria can generate massive economic growth, poverty reduction and human development..

It was revealed in a presentation by the Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra, Chairman of the National Population Commission, Thursday, the Council meeting in Abuja.

The report went on to suggest ways to empower Nigerian adolescent girls.

What they say

The NEC was called to find that a “demographic dividend” can generate massive economic growth, poverty reduction and human development. The demographic dividend occurs when there is a favorable age structure with a higher proportion of workers and a lower proportion of dependents.

The report stated that “The demographic transition is where the conditions necessary to capture a demographic dividend are created. This is characterized by a decline in infant mortality and fertility adding that the faster the decline in fertility, the faster and greater the demographic dividend..

He said he recognizes the importance of investing in adolescent girls to accelerate Nigeria’s demographic transition.

“Adolescents make up the population between the ages of 10 and 19 and are estimated to make up 23.4% of the total population of Nigeria.

“Addressing the sexual and reproductive health and educational needs of adolescent girls can accelerate Nigeria’s transition from a pre-dividend status to an early-dividend country.”

NEC also insisted that meeting the needs of adolescents and empowering them can accelerate the opening of the window of opportunity needed to harness a demographic dividend.

Among the constraints that need to be urgently addressed is the high fertility of adolescent girls, which limits their productivity. Currently, the teenage fertility rate is 106 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19. 43% of girls marry before the age of 18; 8% marry before the age of 15; 19% of teenage girls have started having children; 27% in rural areas against 8% in urban areas; and Adolescent girls contribute to the high number of maternal deaths prevalent in Nigeria.

The NEC has urged state governors to keep teenage girls in school by doing the following:

  • Adopt and implement free and compulsory education for girls: at least an upper secondary school diploma in all 36 states and the FCT. For example, conditional cash transfers to ensure girls stay in school.
  • Safe Schools: Ensure the availability of appropriate equipment and safety in all schools nationwide. For example, toilets, security fence.
  • Empowerment: Increased investment in empowering women and girls in and out of school; work with community and religious leaders to address social norms.
  • Expand access to essential primary health care services: including reproductive and family planning services.
  • Tackling child/early marriage: through legislation and advocacy.

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