"UNITE!” Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls
By Cognito . On Monday, December 19, 2022
Cognito and Nine in conjunction with the Community of Practice on Gender Justice supported by the Voice Nigeria Program hosted a Twitter space with the theme; “UNITE! Activism To End Violence Against Women And Girls" on the first day of December 2022. The event was organised to commemorate the sixteen days of activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) which begins on the 25th of November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs through till the International Human Rights Day on the 10th of December,
The space discussed gender-based violence, legal and social perspectives, policies, and the way forward on the road map to eliminating GBV in Nigeria.
The guests on the panel included Apolmida Haruna, the Executive director of Holy Hope Foundation; Priscilla Usiobaifo, Founder and Executive Director of Braveheart Initiative and Omowumi Ogunrotimi, the Founder and Executive Director of Gender Mobile Initiative.
Gender-based violence is an issue of global concern and comes in different forms such as female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, sexual assault, and denial of basic human rights. With recorded global deaths of 47,000 yearly and 18,000 of these deaths from Africa as a result of GBV, the need for urgent intervention across the country was the common theme from all the speakers.
Omowunmi Ogunrotimi, in her perspective on GBV, said, "Gender-Based Violence is a systematic problem that requires collaborative efforts. We all need to start adopting an ecosystem and multisectorial approach where we are critically engaging every stakeholder across the board." She further stated that we would need to ensure that we are not replicating each other’s efforts.
One of the lessons learned from her work is the importance of training police officers so that interventions put in by the government and non-governmental organisations are institutionalised. This is because a police station is the first point of call to report a GBV case in Nigeria.
Omowumi said, “Gender Mobile Initiative is doing a lot of work around policy advocacy, Braveheart Initiative is doing a lot of work around strategic litigation as far as sexual and gender-based violence is concerned particularly in rural underserved communities. When you also think about the work that the media is doing, they are also ensuring that women with disabilities are not marginalised.”
In Nigeria, violence against women and children is still a rampant issue. According to statistics, 50% of women, especially in Northern Nigeria, have no access to the internet. 55% of men are against their wives having access to the internet and 61% of men in the North are against their daughters using the internet. Kaseina Dashe, Communications lead for Cognito explained how this is also a form of discrimination and violence.
Mida who lives with a disability also alludes to partnership, “We have so much to do together as organisations. We are able to learn from each other when we come together”. She appreciated her selection to be part of the Twitter space as this ensures that someone who has a disability can also be included in such conversations on GBV.
Mida shared a learning experience during her contribution, “Recently we had capacity building training for first responders of GBV for organizations in the FCT in commemoration of World Mental Health Day. A lot of the participating organisations expressed that they never really understood the plight of women with disabilities accessing these services and that their organisations are not even accessible to women with disabilities.”
She also indicated a strong point that needs urgent attention: “Many of the women do not come to report GBV issues or seek support services because they feel that if they come to report at the police station, the police will not take them seriously.” This also supports Wumi’s earlier call for police officers in the country to be trained.
Priscilla mentioned in her contribution that most of the offenders that have been convicted in the cases her organisation has handled were not first-time offenders. She cited a case of a man who sexually abused 7 children of which all the children are below the age of 9. She further stated that we all should unite to ensure cases of GBV are well resolved as this will reduce more occurrences in our society.
Kaseina Dashe, in her final comment, said, “we all need to unite and work together to end violence against women and girls. I am sure we are all tired of casualties and negatives, so it's really up to us to work together.”
To listen to the full 90-minute discussion click here