By Felicia Imohimi
South-South Professional Women Association (SSPWA) has called on women and philanthropists to empower young girls to rid Niger Delta region of the burden of prostitution and human trafficking.
Mrs Omole Haruna, the President of the association, made the appeal during an outreach programme for women of the Guardian Angels Catholic Church, Lugbe, on Friday in Abuja.
Haruna told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the focus of their outreach includes education, health and moral values.
She explained that “the mission of SSPWA is to provide a platform for professional women particularly in south-south zone and the country in general to pursue and formulate better strategies that promote higher standards, economic and educational empowerment of women and young girls”.
Haruna, who frowned at number of young girls in the zone that indulged in prostitution, trafficking or work as house maid among other ills within and outside the country, described such acts as social vices.
She further described those vices as inimical to the growth and development of the zone and the nation at large and blamed the rate of prostitution on poverty, lack of direction and mentorship by elderly women in the society.
The SSPWA president said the south-south zone was blessed and well endowed with large number of influential and highly placed women in the society.
She noted that if each of them utilise their positions and impact positively on young girls, it would assist in reducing the social vices in the region.
According to her, all south-south woman; the elderly and mothers must rise up to their responsibilities by ensuring that young girls have higher standard of moral behaviour and embrace the best standard in education.
“We must also ensure our young girls have opportunities to quality life, enjoy medical and health services, among others.
“The reason we are focusing on the south-south region is that a lot of happenings among women from the zone, especially girls, like prostitution, slavery, unemployment and housemaids, are not favourable to us.
“Our target is to rid the zone of these menace and raise children with high moral standard since we have highly placed professional women within our zone that are holding positions of authority.
“These women can make impact on the lives of these younger girls to become responsible citizens of the country,” Haruna said.
Similarly, Mrs Felicia Onibon, President, Change Managers International Network and past Vice President of SSPWA, decried the rate of abuse and sexual harassment of women, young girls and children in the society.
Onibon blamed such abuses on failure of government to implement the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), among other laws that protect women and young girls in the society.
She emphasised that women lawyers and other groups had made a lot of efforts toward ensuring the passage of CEDAW but yielded no result.
According to her, so many of our girls have been violated by some men in the society due to lack of legislation to bring perpetrators to book.
“The process of violation affects self esteem of both our girls and women that have been affected.
“When a girl is violated she loses control in her academic pursuit, sometimes she gets unwanted pregnancy which would go a long way to stop her growth and development in life,” Onibon said.
Onibon who decried the disparity between the rural and urban women however urged governments to affect the lives of the people in rural areas by alleviating poverty through infrastructure development and aid their agricultural drive, among others.
She said: “the only way to ensure growth and development of any nation is by bringing government to the grassroots, boosting the economy of rural dwellers and alleviating their plight, among others.”