By Shirley Anikpe
Women and girls endure physical, socioeconomic, sexual or psychological violence that affect them irrespective of their location, class, religion or ethnicity. The Covid-19 pandemic also has amplified the magnitude of violence against women and girls to some extend. Although there are existing legal frameworks on violence against women in at least 10 states of the federation, the National Democratic Health Survey (NDHS) 2018 reports that 28% of females have experienced one form of violence or the other.
Some of the legal frameworks on violence against women are as follows;
- The Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act
- Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
- National Gender Policy
The VAPP Act is adopted in 18 sates which includes the Federal Capital Territory. The CEDAW is an international treaty of the United Nations aimed at ensuring the equal rights of men and women to enjoy all social, cultural, civil and political rights. But if certain effective strategies are not put in place to address Gender Based Violence in a sensitive manner it may be impossible for all these beautiful laws and acts to work.
Now if DEVATOP can in collaboration with any other network/coalition or on her own to;
- Advocate to the federal government to establish and operate shelters to support women and girls who are at risk or survivors in each state of the federation.
- Commit adequate resources to establish new and support already established SARCs (Sexual Assault Response Centres) across Nigeria.
- Ensure that laws are compliant with agreed international standards on gender equality, and effectively enforced.
- Support mechanisms to address sexual and gender-based violence in homes, Internally Displaced Peoples’ camps, rural communities, urban areas, educational and health institutions, and workplaces
Women are born leaders, women are the ones who train leaders. Women are multi-tasking and if there is a creation and maintenance of an enabling environment for ensuring inclusion, equality and justice for all in every sphere of our national life. Develop and implement sectoral gender policies within all line ministries in order to mainstream gender equality and social inclusion approach to public policy in Nigeria. The League of Women Voters Nigeria (NILOWV) which was formed to help women play larger or equal roles in public decision making are mentoring women but not every woman can be mentored because her family or friends might be looking at her as an irresponsible or rebellious daughter, wife or mother. They have not succeeded much because women do not support each other or let me rather put women are mostly sacrificial lambs in many homes. For some women early marriage or girl child marriage affect their psychic.
Many individuals and organizations have been fighting GBV/SGBV against women and girls, the ability to take charge is high. Women have used bedroom, boardroom and their natural intelligence to overcome. One cannot support what is stronger than them, but can only support what she is stronger that is why the Bible made it clear that women are help mates to men. When a woman speaks she speaks for everyone not just herself. All women are leaders but women feel insecured and are scared of leadership because of the society they find their selves in.
However, through gender mainstreaming and sensitization we can change the narrative. Stop religious and cultural discrimination against women and girls. Encourage the girl child more and help them in building self confidence in them hence there’s no level ground yet especially in politics women need to learn how to write manifestos.
The world does not give us what we deserve but what we demand. We need to change our mind sets and we need to start from the grassroot. Women need to learn that the wrapper they are holding is to cover another woman’s nakedness/shame. Women have to create their own space using wisdom.