As part of the activities for the commemoration of #16daysofactivism2020, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), a social justice organization in Nigeria and United Kingdom Government in Nigeria through her Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has officially launched a collaborative intervention project called Women-Led Integrated Protection Action Against Gender Based Violence (WIPe-GBV) Project in Nigeria.
WIPe-GBV project fully supported and funded by the United Kingdom Government’s FCDO is aimed at ending all forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the country, targeting three states for a start, namely: Edo, Adamawa and Niger States.
In her welcome address at the Launching, Action Aid Nigeria, Country Director, Ene Obi, stated that the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic and persistent insecurity challenges in the country have further heightened the challenge of GBV as women and girls being the most vulnerable demography, are being subjected to all forms of violence by the perpetrators and insurgents during the conflicts or crisis.
“Women and girls have continued to bear the effects and burdens of violence and conflict. And Covid-19 pandemic has further heightened incidences of violence on women and girls as it introduced new dimensions to violence.”
Obi added that, between January and May 2020 only, save hindered and seventeen (717) cases of rape were recorded by the Nigerian Police Force with most occurring during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“The pandemic brought with it a substantial rise in reported cases of gender-based violence with a monthly increase of 149% in 23 States including the northeast”
It is for this reason that the FCDO provided funding to ActionAid Nigeria for the implementation of interventions to protect the Right of women and girls from GBV exacerbated by Conflict and Covid 19 in Edo, Niger and Adamawa States of Nigeria” she remarked.
Obi added that the selected states for the project were chosen based on their high records of Gender Based Violence and Insecurity.
According to Catrina Laing, Deputy High Commisioner, UK Government in her opening remarks at the event, “WIPe-GBV is a 5-month FCDO of the UK Government funded project designed to respond to the 3 interconnected issues- GBV, Conflict and Covid-19 in three States.
“She added that the overall Goal of the project is to contribute to the protection of women and girls from Gender Based Violence (GBV) in conflict situations worsened by the Covid 19 pandemic through effective programming by women Rights organizations.
Laing while sharing the expected impacts of the project added that the project will further strengthen systems of Women Rights Organisation to respond to incidence of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in conflict situations and Covid 19.
“It will also increase access to the GBV survivor-centered intervention arising from conflict and COVID 19 for women and girls” she said.
Panelists at the event, selected based on their area of expertise in women’s rights protection also spoke extensively on wide range of triggering factors and suggested recommendations on how to nip GVB in the bud.
One of the Panelist, Dr Ngozi Ezeilo, a Professor of Emeritus, University of Nigeria and Founder WACOL, a Women’s Rights NGO said GBV must be condemned in totality in out society as it after effects has continued to create a vicious cycle in our society citing various incidences where the victims ended up being killed either by their spouses or their attackers.
“Our organization as a women’s Right Protection Organisation has handled several cases where the victims got killed by their abusive husbands”.
“So many underaged girls were being sexually abused by their own biological fathers during the pandemic lockdown, it is really getting out of hands. And it js high time we stood up to say no to Gender Based Violence in Nigeria, Ezeilo said.