From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benign
The wife of Edo State Governor Betsy Obaseki called for close collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure that the fight against gender-based violence in Nigeria is effective and achieves the desired goal.
She revealed it during her participation in the End Gender Based Violence in Nigeria Summit organized by the Nigerian Academy of Sciences and the Ford Foundation in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
The governor’s wife speaking on “Overcoming Political Challenges in Combating Gender-Based Violence” praised the support of the executive and legislative bodies of the Edo State government as well as the traditional institutions of the State. ‘State for their support both in the enactment of the law and in the continued sensitization of the population to the law on the prohibition of violence against persons.
Betsy, who noted that gender-based violence is rooted in indigenous law and customs that generally favor men, said it is essential to forge close relationships and bonds with some key actors in society if a change in meaning is observed in this regard.
The First Lady, however, celebrated the success achieved in Edo State, including the approval of special courts and a dedicated prosecution team for cases of gender-based violence by the Governor of Edo State, His Excellency. Godwin Obaseki with the aim of ensuring timely justice relief for victims of gender-based violence in the state.
Earlier, the president of the Nigerian Academy of Sciences, Professor Ekanem Braide, in her speech at the event, lamented the high rate of gender-based violence, saying that âit is worrying and quite disturbing to accept the fact that apart from general discrimination, women face being mistreated and beaten. In many African communities, including communities in Nigeria, even today, societal norms relegate women to the background as objects to be seen, to be admired, sometimes to be exploited but not to be heard. With insecurity in Nigeria disrupting the lives of families, with the ongoing pandemic bringing more hardship, women must be rescued quickly from at least that added burden called gender-based violence. “
She praised the “Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum for deciding to at least remove this burden from women.” I salute the courage of the First Ladies of Edo, Ekiti, Niger and Abia States for paving the way to embark on the laudable project titled Strengthening the Evidence and Response to Gender-Based Violence in States keys of Nigeria.
The Program Officer, Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice, Ford Foundation, Ms. Olufunke Baruwa, while calling for the sustainability of the progress made, said âwe must build on this current action against gender-based violence. I think this is one of the few celebrations we have had to mark the 16 days of activism where there has been constant discussion and action around gender-based violence and we need to keep that momentum going.
Ms Funke Baruwa said: âAt the Ford Foundation we are certainly not just talking about this and I stand here on behalf of the Ford Foundation office for West Africa to say that we will continue to put our money where our mouths are in eradicating gender-based violence. because the voice must go hand in hand with the action. Our partnership with the wives of the Nigerian Governors and the Nigerian Academy of Sciences is not just because we want to fund the project, but because we need both the private sector, government and philanthropic organizations, all on the bridge to help solve this problem â.
Country Representative, United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, Ulla Elisabeth Mueller, said in her speech that âgender-based violence and harmful practices such as forced child marriages and female genital mutilation continue to be a challenge not only in Nigeria but in many countries of the world.
It is said very often that it is part of the culture and the tradition, and therefore it cannot change but I wonder today how much of our culture is exactly like 50 years ago, even 25 years ago. Culture and traditions are vibrant and they are made by human beings.
Noting the statistics, she said that âone in three girls is exposed to gender-based violence, one in five girls have survived female genital mutilation and by the age of eighteen 43% of girls are already brides. These are the official figures may I add. And what is the one thing we know without exception about gender-based violence? It is underreported. So we have official data which gives us very high figures, but we know that this figure is much higher. In fact, it has been assumed that in Nigeria alone we have as many as 10,000 every day.
She called for an end to the culture of silence saying that âpart of this under-statement is due to the culture of silence we have about it. We don’t talk about it, it’s shameful for the survivor to stand up to say that I was raped. How can that be shameful for a woman? The one who should be ashamed is the aggressor, he should never be the survivor. If we are serious about ending gender-based violence, globally and in Nigeria we have to end the silence, we have to speak up for the girl and the woman every day.