Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, Wife of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has called for a collective advocacy and action towards zero tolerance for Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and harmful practices.
Osinbajo made the call on Wednesday while unveiling the Landscape Analysis report on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Harmful Traditional Practices and Obstetrics Fistula at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
The report was presented by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in partnership with Nigeria, Canada and development partners.
“Looking around in the hall today, it is clear that there are other stakeholders and key groups working tirelessly in this field of endeavor.
“We have key policy makers in government and within the communities, advocacy groups, NGOs and concerned individuals, working with the government agencies to end gender based violence and harmful practices which affect our women and girls particularly; they also deserve applause.
“The aim of this gathering today is to provide a report by the UNFPA; the video report and other statistics provided indicate a great need for intervention.
“This data is key as it enables all who chose to speak up and act towards a zero tolerance for harmful practices can target the specific areas of need as revealed, thereby achieving greater successes and having a higher impact.’’
Osinbajo, who was the Special Guest of Honour, said available statistics indicated that GBV was a global pandemic that affected many women in their lifetime.
She said that the statistics meant that 35 per cent of women worldwide had experienced either physical or sexual violence involving a known or unknown person.
The Wife of the Vice President said that concerted efforts were needed to address the ugly trend and save the girl child.
“Do what? Save her before she becomes a victim; speak to him so he is not counted amongst the perpetrators.
“Enlighten on the result of bad choices, sexual harassment at work, school or home.
“Stand up for the girl that is chased around the office table by her superior, at work.
“Do what? Advocate for punishment for the crimes, not only for help for the survivors.’’
According to her, women and girls die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth daily.
“Obstetrics fistula is an unfortunate result of early and child marriage.
“According to a 2015 report on maternal mortality by the UN, Nigeria accounts for a significant percentage of all global maternal deaths.
“For a moment can we consider not only the figures of the statistics but the individuals that make up the figures.
“As I said earlier, LETS DO THIS: the childhood of play, laughter and warmth of loved ones replaced with the harsh reality of forced or early marriage, VVF, smelling, rejected, dejected, broken, torn in need of repair. So, LETS DO THIS. TOGETHER.’’
Osinbajo said that the importance of the key report by UNFPA could not be overemphasised.
She said the report would help to guide interventions, provoke effective programmes, improve ongoing programs to curb and eventually wipe out GBV and harmful practices in the communities.
“For three years, programmes and projects of the UNFPA in Nigeria have targeted addressing these issues with the help of their donor, the Global Affairs Canada and other development partners.
“ As each person and organisation plays their part, together we can do a lot; for the good of our people,’’ she said.
Presenting an overview of the report, Prof. Olabisi Aina, Report Consultant, recommended the empowering of women and girls through promoting and supporting gender education.
“Engaging boys and girls for promoting positive masculinity; this is important; it is not just about helping women; we cannot leave the men out of this process.
“We must navigate with our boys and our men so that they start to understand masculinity,’’ she said.
On his part, the Sultan of Sokoto and Chairman, National Traditional Rulers Council, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar, thanked Osinbajo for standing firm on the programme.
He also commended her for taking three states as the pilot project in the report.
Abubakar said that the event was of great significance in the lives of women and girls.
“Today is a great day for us because we are here to talk about what really is disturbing us.
“I am not in any way knowledgeable in medical or whatever it is but I am a father; and I am also a spiritual leader who is so much bothered about what is happening to our women and girls in our community.
“And that is I believe I should be here personally to lend my strength, my voice to what is going and what we are about to do today and launch this document which will by God’s Grace, take it higher up,’’ he said.
On her part, the UNFPA Resident in Nigeria, Ulla Mueller, commended Nigeria for the programmes and policies initiated to tackle gender-based violence and harmful practices in the country.
She called on Federal Government to prioritise ending sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
The event attracted wives of Oyo, Sokoto and Bauchi states’ governors, members of the Federal Executive Council, traditional rulers, members of the diplomatic corps, senior government officials, development partners and representatives of the UN stakeholders. (NAN)