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Wife of the Benue State Governor, Mrs. Eunice Ortom, has disclosed that herdsmen attacks in 19 out of the 23 local government areas of the state have increased the number of orphans and out of school girls ratio in the state.

She stated this, on Thursday, during the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child organised by the Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF) with the theme “Empower Girls Before, During and After Conflict” held at the JS Tarka Foundation.

While positing that gender-based violence can cause an increase in sexual and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation and adolescent girls’ trafficking, the Governor’s wife noted that 90 percent of adolescent girls who live in crisis prone areas in Benue are more likely to be out of school than girls who live in conflict free areas.

“This is a clear danger signal for now and the future because the Benue Woman Advancement Agenda we have been promoting and celebrating is likely to have a short life span if changes are not made.

“The danger clearly lies in falling education and training of Benue children to take up the challenges of being creative in solving emerging issues, problems and contributing to social, political and economic growth.”

She recalled the UNICEF projection that “of the one billion young people including 600 million adolescent girls that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90 percent of those living in the developing countries will be in the informal sector where low or no pay abuse and exploitation are common.

Mrs. Ortom therefore harped on the need to collectively and individually rise up to the challenges of coming to the rescue of the girl child by designing a participatory agenda for government that is realisable.

She maintained that the female gender should not be seen as the man’s rival or adversary to be trampled upon, destroyed, used and dumped or confined to the lowest stratum of society but should be helped to conquer the future.

The highpoints of the event included technical presentations by Mrs. Victoria Daaor and Helen Teghtegh as well as a moving life story by a 10-year-old internally displaced girl who lost her father to the Fulani incursions to Benue State.

Educational materials were unveiled and presented to participating schools by Mrs. Eunice Ortom.

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