As part of the approaches to prevent Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), in Ondo State, the Wife of the governor, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu has commenced training of Public Secondary Schools Counsellors in Akoko Local Government areas of the state.
The training, which was organised through her Non-governmental organisation, Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu Foundation, (BAAF), kicked off in Akoko North West, and also featured the Launch of the SGBV Yellow card initiative in the area.
Addressing the participants, the BAAF Coordinator, Mr. Austin Otabor explained that Counsellors had pivotal role to play to achieve desired result in the fight against SGBV being the ones saddled with the responsibility of encouraging and motivating students.
According to him, statistics show that secondary school girls were susceptible to SGBV, and suffered in silence, but could be motivated by Counsellors to voice out, hence the need to awake the consciousness of the participants with the training.
He noted that First Ladies in Nigeria had adopted different approaches to fight SGBV in their various states, and that the training of schools Counsellors and the launch of Yellow card initiative were parts of the strategies of Mrs Akeredolu to curb the menace in Ondo.
His words: “If we look at statistics, the victims are mostly young girls of secondary school age, and major problem is the issue of silence; many of them have been violated by different kinds of people and they keep quiet because they do not know how to report and who to speak to.
“We also discovered that they spend most of their times in school and constantly interact with their teachers and counsellors, so if these people are well-equipped to identify or notice early warning signs of abuse.. so we are looking at a proactive approach to responding to gender based violence by building the capacity of these counsellors”.
He noted that BAAF was committed to train all Public Secondary Schools’ Counsellors across the 18 Local Government areas of the state with support from stakeholders in each local government.
The workshop, sponsored by the Lawmaker representing Akoko North East/West, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo has facilitators from the State Ministries of Education, Women Affairs, and Justice.
The Director of Evaluation and Counseling from the Ministry of Education, Mrs Olufunke Ademuyiwa lauded the step taken by the wife of the governor towards curtailing SGBV in the state, and assured of the readiness of the ministry to provide full support by ensuring that the workshop yield the expected outcome.
The Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Gender Research and Documentation, Mrs Temitope Daniyan asserted that the issue of SGBV was becoming rampant in the society which called for prompt intervention from stakeholders, hence the reason the office of the wife of governor came up with the two initiatives to put the crime under control.
The State Chairperson of the Federation of Female Lawyers, FIDA, Mrs Bola Ogundadegbe who took the participants through SGBV legislation in Ondo State, also commended the approach of the First Lady and enjoined the participants to effect changes in their schools with what they’d learnt.
Some of the eight objectives of the workshop include, identify early warning signs of abuse among school children and how to report GBV cases, understand ethical issues related to GBV, incorporate the Yellow card initiative into the school GBV prevention and response efforts, understand the principles of human rights, among others.
The workshop was interractive in nature as participants were made to list out their expectations and what they presumed could serve as obstacles for the fight against SGBV.
They were divided into groups to test their knowledge about SGBV and participated actively in every session.
For day one of the workshop, the participants were taken through terminologies related to SGBV, causes and misconception in Nigeria, Sex and Gender, human rights and its relationship with GBV, and about GBV legislation in Ondo State.