By Eric Ojo, Abuja
Development Aid for Children, Women and Youth (DEV-AID), a leading human capital development organization has reaffirmed its commitment to tackle the increasing wave of gender-based violence in Nigeria.
DEV-AID is an indigenous Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and a member of several global networks who share in the same goal of providing opportunities for children, young people and women to develop their potentials irrespective of status, gender or religion.
Its vision is primarily to create an enabling environment that empowers children, young people and women is accomplished through advocacy, capacity development, policy influencing and service delivery in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Anambra, Zamfara and Kastina States respectively.
The Acting Executive Director of DEV-AID, Ngozi Izuora-Songu made the pledge during the community sensitization programme organized in Kabusa, a suburb in the FCT, as part of DEV-AID’s events to mark this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) with a theme, “Choose to Challenge”.
The IWD which is observed on March 8 every year is a global day celebrating the social, economic and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to raise awareness about women’s equality and advocate for accelerated parity in Nigeria.
“We are keen on putting an end to any form of gender-based violence, collectively we say ‘Enough is Enough’. It is not a choice for Nigeria, it is an Obligation and a Right as Gender Equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive”, she said.
Izuora-Songu who is also a lawyer and development practitioner, noted that the theme of this year’s IWD is a very remarkable one, particularly at this time in Nigeria, where there are so many things that are to be challenged frontally.
“At DEV-AID what we choose to challenge this year is gender-based violence, the violence that erupts particularly at the domestic sphere and that’s why we have come to Kabusa community and interestingly for us, it a follow up on what transpired the community during the COVID-19 lockdown when we go more than 12 reports from this community”, she added.
She further explained there were issues around child rape, issues around molestation and also issues around domestic violence, adding that her organization thought that it is alarming for such a figure to come from one community within a space of three months.
“There is a need to actually intervene and that is why we are here today to mark the IWD and also enlighten the community about the issues around gender based violence and their role and responsibility in challenging the issue across board”, she stressed.
The acting executive director said aside from creating awareness, the sensitization programme which targets the leadership of Kabusa Women and Men associations was also aimed at providing a platform to share experience on domestic violence occurrence post COVID-19 pandemic.
This, according to her, is very important “as a challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we are responsible for our own thought and actions – all day, every day, as we must all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality”.
Continuing she said: “The future is exciting. Let’s build a gender-balanced world. Everyone has a part to play – all the time, everwhere, collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-based world is key. From graasroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects genuine gender balance, not tokenism. We pledge to continue to notice its absence and celebrate its presence.
“So, we can’t be complacent. Now, more than ever, there is a strong call-to-strategically conceptualize our programmes and projects to highlight the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, highlighting what has worked or truly working. More than ever before, we #ChoosetoChallenge every form of gender inequality in the home, workplace or the society at large”.
Also in her remarks, Women Coordinator in Kubusa Ward, Sarah Daniel, who participated in the programme said cases of gender-based violence have been very rampant in the community, adding that the chief of the community and the police have been handling the issues.
She however, raised reservations on the manner such cases are being handled by the police. In her words, “If a woman goes to the police station to report such a case, the police will tell her to drop ‘something’ and we have been telling them that in such matters, they don’t need to drop anything before they (police) can come in urgently and settle it”.
Similarly, another participants, Agatha Mathew, a business woman, thanked DEV-AID for organizing the programme, adding that she and other participants have learnt a lot from it, to the extent that they will be able to stand bold and take action whenever they witness issues relating gender-based violence in their community.
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