👤 By Adenike Lucas, DENISAURUS News
Has anyone seen that video? The one of President Muhammadu Buhari snubbing a female lawmaker. Does the Nigerian President really think less of the female species?
He walked right passed Senator Oluremi Tinubu, to shake a man standing right next to her. With previous statement like “women belonging to the kitchen and za other room,” many would argue the president think women are inferior.
But is that a thing common to northern men. Do they all believe the role of women and girls is to look after their men at home?
Which is probably why less girls are educated in the North.
But, we all know that education is the bed rock of growth and development in any nation, so it is worrying that many Hausa-Fulani women based in the Northern part of Nigeria have lost the opportunity to learn.
Compared to some of their contemporaries in the South, not getting the chance to learn, has become such a barrier and the cause of increasing poverty in millions of household across the North.
Before you attack me for this statement, do you think it is fair that “70 percent of women between 20-29 in the North West are not able to read and write, compared to 9.7 percent in the South East.”
That figure comes from a report titled, “Education for the Girl Child in Northern Nigeria,” and it shows that more than more than 2/3 of 15-19 year old in the North are not able to read a sentence compared to 10 percent in the South.
What alarmed me more is that many research have linked literacy with poverty.
More than 90 percent of the females population in Jigawa State are illiterate compared to 42 percent of the men living in the state. Jigawa is largely populated by Hausa-Fulani people.
A recent report published in 2019 by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS, puts Jigawa down as one of the state with the lowest literacy level and added that its poverty level was over 70 percent.
Take another statistics that is very displeasing, Only 4 percent of females in the north complete secondary school. These figures are alarming!
The barriers of lack of education is seen through the states across the North. The implication of girls missing out in education becomes a burden. Lot os young girls are married off to older men and we have also seen an increase in drug use in Northern communities.
Women, who usually hold the torch at home, not getting adequate education has an implication on the state, because as we all know human beings are the greatest resource in work, and if there are less people employed to work, less money is generated.
Here’s the real affront: parents in the North who keep their girls away from school think often believe that the are going to end up as wives so what is the point of sending them to school? but this is denying the country of potential doctors and lawyers.
This is why in Zaria there is only one Hausa-Fulani female practising law. Even she is not proud that she is alone in her profession.
So what are the solution? Well, Barrister Aysha Ahmad, the only Hausa-Fulani Barrister from Zaria local government has proposed a bill that would make it compulsory that all girls in the north have to finish secondary school.
Barrister Ahmad, 39, a mother who is currently studying her Ph.D doctorate, believes that through the law things can change.
For Barrister Ahmad, there is no reason why a girl should not complete secondary school. Though she is not the first to speak out about the issue of girl education, she is determined to rid the problem.
She said: “We are not focusing ourselves on the problems, or the solution. We are focusing ourselves on the possibilities, and how we are going to enforce those solutions. That is why we are going through the legal route.
“We are going to create a law supporting girl child education. We know the problem and we know the solutions. How do we enforce the solution is what we are trying to do. We no longer want to hear stories.”
She said: “some argue that Islam says a girl should not go to school, but where in the Quran is this found?”
“If we bring it down to the issue of religion, islam actually says ‘if you educate one woman, you are educating a whole nation.’
“We have so many Hadith about education. The prophet did not stop his daughters from learning, so there is no way you can say we should be denied certain right just because we are from the Hausa community or because we are Muslims.” In fact, according to Islam, she insist that “if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation.”
She is going to make change through the law and she has a lawmaker from Zaria, Suleiman Ibrahim Dabo, working to make that happen.
The activist, who counts Mother Theresa as one of her role models, says the system has to change for more girls to be educated, and that is why she is working with the lawmaker in her state, to pass a bill that will make it compulsory for all girls in the north to finish secondary school.
“Like let me tell you, there are other tribes with females practising law here, but I am the only Hausa-Fulani practising. I am not proud.”
Barrister Ahmad, believes having a female Deputy Governor of Kaduna – would also inspire change in girl child education.
Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe was elected in 2019 as deputy to Nasir El-Rufai. It is believed that many girls would see her achievement and aspire to emulate them. To do so, they have to go to school.
The opportunity to finish secondary school must be given to all girls in the North. It must be done through the law. Some problem girls face which prevents them from going to school, will be reduced immediately if the law is passed.
Things like hawking or working as maids, will be put to an end. An awareness will be raised among parents on the importance of education for the girl child.
The strategy Barrister Aysha advocate seem to have been meet with enthusiasm from the the lawmaker from Zaria- and within time there will be a bill in the House of Representatives to ensure that northern girls all get educated till at least secondary school level. And she is very happy, very soon she will not be the only Hausa-Fulani practising law in Zaria.