Ebunoluwa Sessou, Victoria Ojeme & Alice Ekpang
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, arguably the most progressive blueprint for advancing women’s rights.
In response, Nigerian women activists have joined other women around the world to celebrate16 Days of Activism against Violence Against Women and Girls, a yearly event which kicks off November 25 to end December 10 .
Against this background CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world with more than 10,000 members is celebrating the inspiring stories of women: activists involved in protests, women human rights defenders behind bars, and women’s organisations across the globe working to mitigate rising levels of gender based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on the role of women in the EndSARS protest in Nigeria, Dr. Abiola Akiode-Afolabi, Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center, WARDC told WO that the EndSARS is just an appellation that women are visionary leaders.
According to her, “Women are leaders who can manage leadership appropriately. It underscores the fact that women are peacemakers and they are better leaders with vital agenda.
“Going into 16 days of activism, women are also leading in different communities. They are involved in awareness creation and they are also negotiating and getting feedback from their different communities on issues across the world.
“So, it provides opportunity for women to re-affirm the need for government to contribute to prevention, protection and collection of data as well as funding women issues.
“Government’s political will must also materialize in terms of accountability for gender based violence.
“One of the points at this time is the need to pounder on the issues relating to women around the world.
“This is the time for organizations around the world to come together for extensive deliberations to ensure effective coordination among women so as to be able to hold governments accountable and work with communities within the state to see that gender-based violence is completely eliminated”, she said.
Increase funding for first responders — UN
Contributing, Seyi Soremekun, while quoting António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, in a programme themed: Women’s Rights; Post COVID 19, Shadow Pandemic, Situation Report, What Next * to mark the 16 Days of Activism, said the COVID pandemic has further exposed women and girls.
At the event, which held in Lagos Monday in collaboration with Warren Rose Foundation, the UN Information Officer in Nigeria added, “We must prioritise women leadership in finding solutions. Actions must include increased funding to women organizations which are often first responders in cases of Gender-Based Violence”.
“We must address power imbalances; let us re-double our efforts to eradicate GBV forever”.
Breaking the culture of silence
The National Centre for Women Development, NCWD, has urged families, institutions, and communities to support survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in order to break the culture of silence around domestic violence.
The Director-General, NCWD Barr. Mary Ekpere-Eta said this in a statement to mark #16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2020 in Abuja.
She said genuine support for women and girls who survive acts of violence will help in breaking the culture of silence around domestic violence which has led to many deaths and truncated dreams.
Ekpere-Eta added that friends, families, and associates of women who survive violent crimes should back them to seek justice, as there are laws that address violence against women.