FILE PHOTO: Girl-child education.

The Nigerian Girl Guides Association (NGGA) has identified sound and qualitative education as a critical tool in empowering the girl-child towards attaining leadership positions.

The association’s Chief Commissioner, Mrs Maria-Goretti Sule, said in Lagos on Saturday that such empowerment would bring about global peace.

Sule spoke at the opening of the Nigeria Hub of the 2019 Juliet Low Seminar (JLS) on Saturday.

The seminar had the theme: “Lead Out Loud: Tackling Gender Barriers to Leadership”.

JLS is hosted by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

According to Sule, the potential of any girl-child may remain untapped if not educated.

She said that education had the key to unlocking the potential.

Sule said that lack of education of the girl-child was a challenge to achieving purposeful leadership, national growth and global development, peace and harmony.

“That is the essence of this event. Today marks a new dawn for us in the NGGA because this happens to be the first time we are hosting our movement’s global event.

“We have been playing host to many national and Africa region events and some others sponsored by the WAGGGS but when Nigeria was granted the hosting rights as one of the 20 hubs for the seminar, our joy knew no bounds.

“You will agree with me that the girl-child is going through many issues such as gender discrimination, rape, poverty, barriers to education, violence and female genital mutilation, among others.

“We must not feign ignorance of these issues if we intend to give our girls the much needed empowerment through education to ensure freedom for them and find the space to develop their potential.

“The theme for the 2019 JLS is a very timely one; this is the reason we must call on stakeholders to join forces with us to break barriers that hinder the girl-child and young women from developing their talents and becoming who God wants them to be,” she said.

The commissioner urged that from homes to schools, workplaces, markets or political campaign grounds, all barriers to girl-child development must be broken.

She called for legislation that would destroy barriers working against females, to achieve accelerated national transformation.

“We appeal for legislation that will help young women to gain the confidence to pursue their life dreams and pursue success in whatever field they desire.

“We appeal for appointments for women who have the capacities to lead and make impacts rather than discriminate against them because of their gender.

“As an association, we are ready to continue equipping our girls and playing our part to ensure they are mentored and polished to be of great service to the world,” Sule said.

Mrs Lilian Damie, the Assistant National Project Commissioner of the NGGA, said on the sidelines of the event that about 700 members of the association were participating in the JLS in different countries, including Nigeria.

She said that the leadership programme targeted females between ages of 18 years and 25.

According to her, the purpose is to identify gender barriers to leadership and come up with ways to overcome them.

“It is expected that when these participants and facilitators drawn from 18 countries return to their local communities, they should be able to transfer skills and impact knowledge garnered during the JLS experience to at least 100 girls, each.

“We strive to deal with the issues facing the 21st century young women and girls by equipping them with the right education (formal and non formal), and skills that will enable them to discover themselves and unleash their potential for leadership roles.

“For us, education remains the gateway. It remains the key to preventing all forms of challenge working against women.

“It is, therefore, important that every woman is given the opportunity to learn, lead and grow,” Damie said.

Christa Ochocki, a facilitaor from the U.S., said that WAGGGS remained one of the global organisations that had impacted on millions of the girl-child and women.

According to her, JSL which is in honour of Juliet Low, Founder of the Girl Scouts in the U.S., over a century ago, has given girls, the world over, opportunities to see themselves as change agents.

“This seminar comes up once in three years, and this year’s event is special in the sense that it is the first time it is holding simultaneously in 18 different countries.

“The good thing about the seminar is that it fosters international friendship, creates better understanding among persons from different cultural backgrounds and different works of life and, therefore, ends up making the world a better place,” she said.

Miss Ruth Afoko, a student of the Winscosin University, Accra, who participated in the event, urged more women to show interest in politics and governance.