Key Takeaways from the 3rd Annual Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum Summit on Gender-Based Violence
1 in 3 women are the subject of Gender Based Violence, let’s do better.
I attended the 3rd Annual Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum (NIGWF) Conference on Awareness, Accountability and Action: Sustaining the State of Emergency Against Gender-Based Violence, an interactive forum with Governors, First ladies and Stakeholders on Monday, December 5th at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja.
The aim of the conference was to discuss the methods of implementation regarding providing solutions to issues that pertain to gender-based violence in the Nigerian community.
At the conference was the Ambassador of the European Union to Nigeria and to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Samuela ISOPI who said it’s important to keep track of what happens as it pertains to resolving issues around gender-based violence.
‘‘That is why I am pleased that the Spotlight Initiative together with the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum and the Ministry of Management Committee has worked together to develop the GBV Accountability tracker that would be launched today. This is a live platform for taking stock of the state of GBV in Nigeria and providing a one-stop shop for all GBV-related information.’’
She stated that with the Spotlight Initiative in the last phase of implementation, the accountability tracker would help us to take stock of the progress and also identify key priorities looking ahead.
The Director General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Mr Asishana Bayo Okauru highlighted some of the progress made as it relates to the fight against gender-based violence.
He said that The NGF made a commitment to re-ensure that tackling sexual and gender-based violence in our respective states will be a priority.
The Governors committed that the Violence Against Persons Law (VAPP) and the Child Rights Act would be effectively passed and implemented.
‘‘We have gone ahead to pass this in 34 states and right now, the Chairman personally told me that he is looking at the other two states and would speak to his colleagues. I just want to reassure the Minister that you are not alone in this,’’ said the Director General.
Also, at the conference was Bukky Shonibare, the Executive Director of Invictus Africa.
Invictus Africa is a social enterprise that uses data and evidence to promote human rights and gender equality.
‘‘What we do is use the data and stories to be able to advance issues relating to women and girls. This is all towards ensuring we have a gender-equal society,’’ said Bukky.
Bukky commended the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum in that a lot of states that were yet to pass the VAPP Law and the Child Rights Act have done so.
‘’So there have been changes between December 2021 and now, rapid changes. Now, we can say that 34 states have passed the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act and over 22 states have passed the Child Rights Act.’’
Bukky said that the work done with the Governors wives is to launch the National Directory of Service Providers.
‘‘What we did then is to provide the technical support and most importantly, the methodology for how we develop the pages which is to first collect the data through a google form that we send out, then we sort and collate and then verify and validate, and after we publish.’’
My Thoughts on Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria
Attending the third annual gender-based violence conference with the Nigerian Governors’ wives was an interesting one to know the progress made.
It’s great to know that more states in Nigeria have enacted the VAPP Law and the Child Rights Act.
However, a big issue that must be addressed is that of implementation. As the laws are domesticated, when the cases come up, are there consequences? Do the perpetrators go to jail? Is there justice served?
At the panel discussion for the GBV conference, the Niger State First Lady, Dr Amina Abubakar Bello said that a challenge is that people were not reporting and the cases were not investigated properly.
In order to solve this, what is done is capacity building for service providers and they have set up a community program with the wives of the local government chairman.
They also endeavour to have a collaboration with the police and the judiciary.
I believe this is important because the police need to be sensitised on how to handle cases that deal with gender-based violence so that those who are survivors are encouraged to speak up and tell their stories.
The police also need enough support on how to work with the judiciary officers on conducting a proper investigation of the case.
Another point I would like to hammer on is advocacy. I believe that prevention is better than cure.
Therefore, in order to stop the high rate of sexual violence in Nigeria, there must be advocacy to change the cultural and societal norms that allow gender-based violence crimes to fester.
One of the best ways to do that is to focus on the family unit/structure. To raise boys and girls differently.
To incorporate feminist notions and ideologies on gender equality, the teaching of sex education, and incorporating mental health techniques to encourage open conversations.
What are your thoughts on how to eradicate gender-based violence in your society?