The wife of the Ondo State Governor, Arabinrin Betty-Anyanwu Akeredolu today joins 24 of her colleagues under the Nigerian Governors Wives Against Gender-Based Violence, NGWA-GBV to brainstorm on curbing the pervasive Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria.
At the opening ceremony of 2020 NGWA-GBV’s First Annual Conference themed: ‘Political Will and GBV Responses: An Interactive Forum with Governors and First Ladies’, held at the Transcorp hilton hotel Abuja, the wives of the governors launched an Action Plan which is to be utilised in their respective states.
Mrs Akeredolu had, prior to the event, launched a SGBV’s Yellow Card and emergency response centre in Ondo state, and decorated the Fiwasaye school and its roundabout with billboards that depict actions against the menace as part of activities for the 16 days Activism against Gender-Based Violence as declared by the United Nations.
Governors at the event who shared their efforts at eradicating GBV included Ondo, Ekiti, Kogi, Niger, and Plateau States.
The Wife of Nigeria President, Hajia Aisha Buhari commended them for their collective efforts at combating Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria which skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Represented by the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Dame Pauline Tallen, the President’s wife described the theme of the event as a collective call and commitment to strengthen and engender the fight against GBV.
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, on his response emphasised the need for speedy justice delivery for cases that are Gender-Based.
According to him, enforcement of domesticated laws were paramount to eradication of GBV, hence, the reason his administration priotised provision of machinery for quick prosecution of offenders.
Reacting to the complaints about inadequate number of women in elective and appointive positions, Akeredolu decried the attitude of women not supporting their fellow woman in contest.
Also speaking, the Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi noted that the forum demonstrated strong Political will and tolerance towards Gender-Based issues, noting that their commitment wasn’t a mere favour to womenfolks, but for economic and humanitarian purposes.
Highlighting government’s interventions for the elevation of females’ status in his State, Fayemi affirmed that there was a correlation between poverty and Sexual-based violence, hence the need for women’s empowerment.
Earlier in her welcome address, the chairperson of the NGWA-GBV, Erelu Bisi Fayemi noted that there was an astronomical increase in cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.
She said: “The COVID19 pandemic and the lockdowns that ensued exacerbated an already problematic situation, as rates of violations increased exponentially. The continued rise in GBV cases has made it imperative to scale up multi-dimensional approaches and strategies in combating all forms of GBV”.
According to her, a thriving culture of impunity, anchored on the shaming and intimidation of survivors and lack of access to justice, lack of a unified legal framework and court system to deal with GBV, contributed to the rise of the menace.
Other factors are non-existent or poorly equipped facilities to respond to GBV cases, including lack of Sexual Assault Referral Centers and shelters to care for survivors, among others.
Leading her 24 other colleagues that made NGWA-GBV forum, to present Action Plans against GBV, Erelu Fayemi encouraged them to adapt it to suit their context and environment, and appealed to the governors to provide them with the needed supports.
Some sexually abused survivors who shared their experiences at the event emphasised the need for mothers to be more sensitive and closed to their girls in order to quickly detect if they’re being molested sexually.
Speakers at the event included the European Union Ambassador in Nigeria, Ketil Kalson, representative of Ford Foundation, Mrs. Funke Baruwa, a Gender-Based Violence survivor and Author, Fatimah Ishiaku, among others.
There was an exhibition of projects executed by each wife of the governor that are geared towards fighting against GBV in their states.