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Protect and Empower Teenage Girls and Young Women: a Resounding Message from Youth Envoy in Visit to Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development

Abuja, Nigeria Mrs. Ifeoma Nkiruka Anagbobu, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Nigeria welcomed Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth for a courtesy visit to the Ministry. The Permanent Secretary was sitting in for the Minister. The meeting, which was attended by a number of different Heads of Department at the Ministry sought to examine the challenges the Ministry is addressing the country and explore opportunities for alignment with the Youth Envoy’s mandate.

Speaking after introducing her delegation, the Youth Envoy underscored the need for renenwed commitment to address the underlying challenges and risks teenage girls and young women face with respect to their sexual and reproductive health. “I have had the opportunity to meet with young people in a townhall discussion and they have expressed to me the urgent need to eliminate child marriages and female genital mutilation. These harmful practices are setting teenage girls and young women back in achieving their potentials” noted the Youth Envoy.

Mrs. Anagbobu welcomed the Ministry’s Heads of Department present to share prognosis on how the country is working to address the underlying issues facing young people, particuarly teenage girls and young women. Noting the cooperation the Government of Nigeria has with UNFPA and UNICEF through the Joint Programmes on Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation, and on Child Marriage, the Ministry stressed that there was significant progress with legislation and local interventions on these issues.

Speaking on behalf of the Youth Envoy’s delegation, Saskia Schellekens thanked the Ministry for the audience and noted that this provided the opportunity to align with the Envoy’s mandate to bring young people closer to the UN and UN closer to young people. She emphasised that empowering young girls delivers both economic and social dividends, with investments in the health and education of young girls critical in delivering particularly on the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development.

The Youth Envoy will be meeting with other high level officials, and have further discussions with young people prior to finishing the mission in Nigeria.