ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) a social justice organization working to eradicate poverty through gender equality has held a National Dialogue to strengthen strategic collaborations in tackling the recurring cases of violence against women in Nigeria.
The Dialogue which took place in Abuja yesterday, held in partnership with Global Affairs, Canada and Ford Foundation to also commemorate this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence.
Andrew Mamedu, Country Director, AAN while addressing the Pressmen at the event said, the issue of violence against women has remained a sensitive issue that the society continue to shy away from having genuine conversation around. Hence continues to linger with several unreported cases particularly due to the patriarichal structure of an African society.
“Before now, whenever issue of Violence Against Women comes up in a gathering or in public, people shy away from discussing it because they automatically assume it sex- related. And sex as a topic is often considered sacred in most communities in Nigeria till date”.
“According to a recent statistics, one out of every four girls suffers violence/sexual violence against women- this simply means about 25 percent of women population in Nigeria are already victims of violence against them at one point or another.”
“With this statistics, you should know, it is a big issue and we need to invest and unite to fight it as a collective across board. But it has to be led by the government from the federal and state particularly before it moves to the local government level.”
Mamedu while sharing the positive impacts of Women’s Voice and Leadership in Nigeria (WVL-N) – a 5 years project specifically designed to tackle issues around Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) fully supported by Global Affairs, Canada in partnership with ANN, said the project have impacted well over five million girls in five years.
He added, through the implemention of WVL-N and collaborations with other partners the cases of SGBV are gradually reducing, because the level of awareness has increased amongst the people.
“We are beginning to see actions. We are beginning to see people reporting cases, we have seen perpetrators of SGBV being tried and sent to jail. We are beginning to see people being scared to carry out act of violence against women. We have seen ‘Power that be’ – a Commissioner being prosecuted for carrying out rape against a woman but before now that did not happen.”
“What this tell us is that, our messages are going down and people are getting more knowledgeable on the issue, people now know more about their rights. Also more and more people are reporting it much more than they used to do years ago. Even though, there is still a huge gap and we definitely need to do more to make sure that we bring it down to every household across local communities” he said.
Djifa Ahado, Head of Development Corporations, Global Affairs, while speaking to the Pressmen at the event said, WVL-N is one of the programmes created by Global Affairs Canada to meet the needs of local women’s organizations such as Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in developing countries. Currently being implemented in 30 countries of the world and Nigeria being one of these countries.
“Our support helps these CBOs advance gender equality and empower women in developing countries through collaborations with Local partners. It promotes and protects their human rights.”
Djifa added that WVL-N has been a leading voice for change with impactful contributions recorded since it was launched five years ago in Nigeria.
“With these positive impacts though our partner, Actionaid Nigeria, we hope to renew the contract, for another five years for continued collaboration in the fight against SGBV across Nigeria” Djifa said.