Civil Society Organizations (CBOs) and Community-Based Organizations (CSOs) have called for concerted efforts and strengthened partnerships among stakeholders to reduce the prevalence of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Nigeria.
The call was made during a one-day workshop to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism against GBV, organized by the European Union –Agents for Citizen-driven Transformation (EU-ACT) programme of the British Council.
The CSOs in a communique issued at the end of the workshop noted that “strengthened partnerships between government, civil society organizations, and communities can help to develop comprehensive interventions to address GBV.”
They also stressed that “CBOs must monitor, evaluate campaigns as well as collaborate with partners and other CBOs to collectively tackle GBV issues. “
Earlier in her presentation, Mrs Bose Ironsi, the Executive Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Project (WHARP), explained that inequality fuels the violence that is being experienced in the society.
Mrs Ironsi stressed that “addressing GBV is vital to upholding human rights, promoting gender equality and creating societies where everyone live without fear and violence based on their gender.”
She thereafter called for increased education and awareness among CBOs by promoting gender equality and challenging harmful attitudes and behaviours.
Mr. Damilare Babalola, the EU-ACT National Programme Manager (NPM), who spoke on the 2023 theme of the 16 Days of Activism, explained that the theme “UNITE, Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls” is apt because it highlights that more needs to be done to promote the rights of women and girls.
Mr. Babalola explained that “investment is not only about money, it also has to do with how we reposition our advocacy at the community level to ensure things become more favourable for women and girls.”
The NPM added that “there is a lot of stigmatization that prevents women from reporting abuse and when they do, it gets worse when they don’t get justice. If the women are sure that they will get justice when they report, a lot of women will speak up.
“As such, CSOs should do more to ensure that the structure of our legal and judicial system can enable justice and criminalization of perpetrators of violence against women and girls.”
He noted that there should be facilities, systems and processes that support survivors to speak out.
Mr Adeshola Afariogun, the host and EU-Act Focal person in Lagos State, who commended the efforts of CSOs and CBOs so far in tackling GBV, noted that more needs to be done to achieve the change that we desire.
In line with the theme of the 16 Days, Mr. Afariogun noted that “tackling GBV should not be limited to 16 days only, but all through the year.
In attendance at the workshop were CBOs, CSOs, Religious and community leaders, Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and CSO partners of the EU-ACT programme.