By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday observed that there has been a spike in gender-based violence because of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and the measures put in place to contain the virus.
The President’s observation was contained in his goodwill message at the International Day of. Eliminating Violence Against Women.
President Buhari highlighted measures that governments at various levels were putting in place to curb sexual and gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19.
November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, from when the United Nations “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence” will begin and end on December 10, 2020.
President Buhari said that the subject of Sexual and Gender-Based violence in all its forms has been recurrent especially considering the alarming statistics of violence against vulnerable persons recorded in Nigeria, particularly women and girls.
While noting that he is “indeed aware of the unfortunate situation from records and reports of incidences in the country,” the president added: “The COVID-19 pandemic and attendant responses by our government to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly lock-down measures similarly adopted by other countries worldwide, further exacerbated the already dire situation of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.
“Nigeria has long been facing a gender-based violence crisis, with 30% of women and girls aged 15-49 have experienced sexual abuse.
“The International Day of Eliminating Violence against Women, therefore, presents a unique opportunity to highlight actions taken by the government to address violence against women and girls.”
President Buhari said to address the developments, governments at Federal and State levels have initiated various steps including
establishment of a National Tool for Gender-based Violence Data Management, Committee on the eradication of sexual, gender-based violence, Development of Gender-Based Policy Guidelines in Emergency Response, Improving the economic status of women, and Fundamental Human Rights and Freedom.
He said to mitigate the socio-economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the government has prioritized vulnerable groups, including women, in the provision of medical and social assistance.
According to him, “Our administration remains committed to eradicating poverty and enhancing growth and development for women and girls.
“In the last year, over one million Nigerians have been enrolled into National Social Register of poor and vulnerable households to enable them to access needed social assistance.
“Under the National Social Investment Programme, we have commenced cash transfers and distribution of food items to individuals and families across all States in Nigeria as palliatives to cushion the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Our administration remains committed to eradicating poverty and enhancing growth and development for women and girls. In order to address gender-based poverty, we have initiated programmes such as Tradermoni, Marketmoni, and Farmersmoni under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme.”
On fundamental human rights and freedom, the president expressed his administration’s belief that the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms are critical to the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
He added: “It is for this reason that I urge the international community to support the mandate and operations of the Human Rights Council in its quest to strengthen institutions in relation to gender equality and empowerment, as well as the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.
“We have developed additional strategies to improve the quality of life for women and girls, redoubling our efforts to improve access to productive resources for women and girls as well as continue to ensure the protection of fundamental rights.
“We are very mindful of the necessity to empower women and girls for the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the African Union Agenda 2063; as well as the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action.”