In a bid to end violence against women and girls in Nigeria, Spotlight initiative has setup a network of men against Social and Gender-Based Violence in Yaba Local Government area of Lagos state.
The program which is an initiative of the United Nations and the European Union, implemented by The African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD) is a continuation of an ongoing spotlight initiative program, geared towards educating men and boys on the critical role they can play towards eliminating violence against women and girls in the Nigeria community.
Lawal Audu, One of the facilitators who is also the Senior Programme Officer, Centre LSD, said the essence of the network is not only to learn about the ongoing global campaign of intolerance to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, but to also have the men pass on the message to members of their community.
Further laying emphasis on the need to set up a network for the protection of women against gender-based violence, Audu pointed out that Nigeria ranks 118 of 134 countries in the Gender Equality Index.
He further revealed that “1 in 3 women aged 15-49 have reported experiences of sexual abuse, with a marked divide between girls and women in urban (33 percent) and rural (24 percent) areas. “
According to Audu, the program will also educate participants on the critical roles men and boys can play in eliminating violence against women and girls and To establish a Network of Men against Sexual & Gender-Based Violence in Yaba LCDA.
Speaking on the steps to be taken to eliminate violence against women in the society Audu said, “Majority of men are made to see violence against women and girls as a women’s problem. So even when we want to involve them, we solicit their help like Nigeria begging the Us army to come and assist her in fighting insurgency.
“Violence against women and girls must be seen as humanity’s problem. It’s an epidemic we must all come together to address before it makes life unbearable for all of us.”
Further making reference to Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015, Audu held that men need to know what constitutes an act of violence against women.
Also, he urged the men to speak against Violence against Women and work with the women in a bid to totally eliminate violence against women.
At the end of the event, a committee consisting of community leaders from communities in Yaba was set up to lead the network of men that will be championing the fight against Sexual and gender-based violence.
The Otunba of Makoko Olusunmade Philips, Apena of Makoko Ogunnoiki Waliu, Akin Ilu o Iwaya Chief Francis Ogunbanjo, and religious leaders of the two communities were amongst the men selected to champion the network.