Foundation seeks protection for girl-child, increased HPV vaccination awareness

A non-governmental organisation championing the cause of the girl-child, the Yeye Modupe Alakija Foundation has advocated the celebration and protection of every girl-child in society.

The Executive Director of YMAF, Omobola Olaribigbe, said the society needs to ensure that the female child has equal opportunities as the male gender.

Olaribigbe spoke at the median edition of the foundation’s Preserving and Activating Destinies Initiative conference with the theme “EquipHer: Navigating Today with Value, Values and Visibility” to mark the International Day of the Girl Child 2023.

She said the conference was organised to celebrate the girl-child and to educate her about who she is and the potential she has to contribute to national development.

The United Nations Children’s Fund set aside October 11, every year to celebrate the girl child and recognise her rights and the unique challenges she faces around the world.

The day is focused on celebrating and enlightening the girl child about her opportunities in the world.

She said every nation should ensure that every girl-child is placed in every sector such as the education sector, health sector, and policy-making among others.

Olaribigbe disclosed that the foundation in collaboration with the Lagos State government would be creating awareness on the importance of Human Papillomavirus vaccination, stressing that the HPV vaccine is a powerful tool in preventing cervical cancer, which affects thousands of women globally.

The World Health Organisation recommends that the HPV vaccine be included in national vaccination programmes to prevent cervical cancer and other HPV-related conditions.

The YMAF executive director stated that the girl-child is very powerful and breathes life, noting that without the girl-child, there is no existence and therefore must be celebrated in every possible way.

The girl-child advocate explained, “The girl child naturally has the skill to multitask and because they are being pushed outside or suppressed, a lot of girl-children begin to question themselves.

“Now, because of what the United Nations has done – the celebration of the girl-child, awareness is coming up. And the beautiful thing is that we get bigger every year
“So, it is important that every girl-child must be celebrated and for her to be celebrated, she needs to know who she is and be able to birth and become who she is meant to be.

“We want to bridge the gap of what is exactly going on in society to ensure that the girl-child is placed where she is supposed to be placed in society. If this is done there will be a change.

“The girl-child is meant to be in policy-making, the education sector, the health sector and every sector. If we do not tell the girl-child who she is, society will keep suppressing her. “

She stated that many women across the world have done remarkable things using the battle against COVID-19 as an example.

“The women-led nations did better than the male nations and that is the power of what a woman can do”, she noted.

According to her, the foundation’s areas of focus were in three core areas of health which involve menstrual hygiene management.

“Part of the health side is menstrual hygiene management.
We raise awareness and help the girl child’s hygiene and for period matters.

“Another area is the HPV vaccination
because it’s very important for girls too, you know, it’s not common in this part of the world.

“Our organisation is also raising awareness for these things.

“We are also empowering the beneficiaries of our foundation, that’s the breadwinner of families, to help them overcome poverty”, she said.

Olaribigbe said every girl-child should know that she is special and powerful beyond measure and if she keeps at it and remains focused will achieve her full potential in life.

She encouraged parents to ensure that their female children and wards are vaccinated with the HPV vaccine for the protection of young girls from harmful HPV infection that can lead to various types of cancers, including cervical cancer.

The Federal Government, on October 24, introduced the HPV vaccine into the routine immunisation system to prevent cervical cancer among girls aged nine to 14 years.

The vaccination targets 7.7 million girls, which is the largest number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region.

The girls would receive a single dose of the vaccine, which is highly efficacious in preventing infection with HPV types 16 and 18 which are known to cause at least 70 per cent of cervical cancers.


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