By Joseph Erunke, Abuja
Women and girls’ rights advocates have called for a total end to gender inequality in the country, tasking authorities to put in place stringent measures that will facilitate the eradication of gender-based violence.
The activists who also decried poor women representation in appointed and elected offices urged the National Assembly to enact a law that will compel the percentage of women representation in such offices at both federal, state and local levels.
They spoke at a two-day capacity strengthening workshop for networks and coalitions to monitor and demand accountability on gender-based violence, organised by Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, WARDC in collaboration with European Union, EU and United Nations Spotlight Initiative, held in Abuja.
The Executive Director of WARDC, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, speaking at the occasion regretted that the issues of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), Harmful Practices (HP) and the promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) have become very prevalent in the country, noting that ” lack of access to SRHR by women is a major issue in this clime.”
“Research has shown that one in three women have experienced one form of SGBV or the other hence the need to push for reforms that would eliminate all forms of discrimination against women,” she said.
Explaining that, “The activity is implemented under the spotlight initiative, a global multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030”, she said: “The interventions focus on mutually reinforcing pillars.”
” WARDC is implementing pillar six in Lagos and FCT which focuses on promoting an empowered civil society and autonomous women’s movement,” she said.
According to her, “The Capacity Strengthening For Networks/Coalitions To Monitor And Demand Accountability is designed to support the capacity of existing networks/coalitions of women’s organizations that have been identified as key game-changers to monitor and demand accountability of Ministries Departments Agencies (MDAs) to ensure sustainable prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Harmful Practices (HP) and the promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).”
Besides, she said it was aimed at strengthening “collaboration among networks/coalitions of women’s organizations to build strong and sustainable movements that will monitor and demand accountability of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.”
“You have been identified as key change-makers, we therefore in your capacity to mobilize other women to demand and institute transformational change in your communities,” she told participants, adding: “We, therefore, urge you all to leverage on the knowledge that you will acquire from this training to sustainably push for prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Harmful Practices (HP) and the promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).”
Also speaking at the occasion, Evelyn Terundu Ugbe, Head of Program, WARDC, explained that the capacity sees strengthening workshop was aimed at looking into sexual and gender-based violence and gender inequality.
She added that the event was aimed at strengthening government and institutions to ensure that policymakers were better informed to ensure that ministries become more gender-responsive in their approaches.
“We need to educate the communities through you. You are closer to the communities, so with the knowledge, you will acquire from here, you can educate members of the communities-women, men, boys and girls on how to end gender-based violence,” she told participants.
On her part, Dr Hauwa Shekarau, President and Founder, Women Law and Development Africa, called for an end to women marginalisation in both appointed and elected offices just as she said obnoxious laws that tend to inhibit women rights to compete with their male counterparts be abolished through constitutional processes.
Dr Shekarau, who is also the Chairman of, Nigeria Bar Association, Abuja Branch, said her organisation has given women “training that they shouldn’t allow anybody to marginalize them during the election because they don’t know that it’s their right.”
“We told them that they should make sure that they come out and vote whom they want when it comes to election and voting. We sensitized their husbands to allow them to come out to vote when it comes to election time.
She, however, hailed the National Assembly for considering gender party a priority in the ongoing constitutional amendment.
” I am excited that the National Assembly is today talking about the need for gender parity. Even as they are working towards constitutional amendment, gender parity is one issue that is topmost on their agenda”, she said.