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Ezekwesili, UN representatives speak at #DARE2021 conference in Abuja

Ezekwesili, UN representatives speak at #DARE2021 conference in Abuja
August 15
08:46 2021

The determined, aspire, re-imagine and express (DARE) conference 2021, a pan-African conference organised by YouthHubAfrica, was held as part of activities to mark the international youth day on Friday.

The conference was held at the international conference centre, Abuja on August 13 and 14 with several discussions on gender-based violence (SGBV), education, early marriages and culture with regard to women and girls in society.

The event, with the theme, ‘Expanding Margins’, was geared towards ending sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls in Nigeria and Africa at large.

Rotimi Olawale, executive director of YouthHubAfrica, who was a moderator in one of the panel sessions on ending sexual and gender-based violence, said the purpose of the conference is to bring young people together to interact, learn and also listen to the current trends around the issues that are being discussed.

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Speaking on the the issue of sexual violence, he said according to data, the percentage of intimate partner violence increased during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“This forum will deal with how young people can respond to such things, especially if you are facing sexual violence, harassment at the work place, colleges,” he said.

“We need to understand that women, especially young ones have been at a disadvantage for a long time.”

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Ulla Elisabeth Mueller, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative, who was a panelist, said the major challenges governing child marriage are negative cultural norms.

“We need to have conversations with traditional, religious leaders, and parents and most importantly, not forget to communicate the economic impact of such acts and how society is losing huge potential when girls are married out early,” she said.

In another session on ensuring inclusiveness in education, Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, CEO of Rise Networks, expressed concern about the education sector in Nigeria.

“Teaching in Nigeria has been left to those who cannot get jobs in other fields. If we don’t empower teachers and vocational education in Nigeria, we are not ready for change,” she said.

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The second day of the conference featured Odunayo Eweniyi, co-founder of PiggyVest, Obiageli Ezekwesili, a former minister of education who joined the event virtually, and other notable speakers.

Speaking in a session on employment and entrepreneurship, Eweniyi said investing in women is not charity but an economic endeavor.

“You get returns when you find women. There are many women who are interested in tech, the problem is that there they are not getting funding,” she said.

Other speakers at the two-day conference include Hadiza Aminu Dorayi, the national programme coordinator for Spotlight Initiative, Bolaji Abdullahi, politician, and Edward Addai, country representative for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Ethiopia.

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The conference rounded off with an HIV/AIDS concert with artistic performances from Joeboy, singer Oiza and Meyi Abu, Black eke, a Nigerian magician and Trudance art, a dance group.

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