Violence Against Women: WILPF Train Activist Groups On Risk Mitigation

Violence Against Women: WILPF Train Activist Groups On Risk Mitigation

By Oswald Agwu, Abakaliki

Women and girls Rights advocates in Nigeria have been advised to build networks and collaborations as a means of mitigating the risks associated with their job.

The State Coordinator, Coalition of Eastern Nongovernmental Organisations, Rivers State Chapter, Mrs Dumka David, gave the admonition in Uburu, Ebonyi State, during a capacity building outreach for Women Rights Organisations, Civil Society Organisations and Autonomous Social Movements in Ohaozara and Onicha Local government areas of the State.

The two-day training was organised by Women International League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF, a Nongovernmental Organization implementing the United Nation women spotlight project on ending violence against women and girls.

The training was aimed at equipping participants with knowledge on Accountability tools and mechanisms for effective Advocacy in ending violence against women and girls in Ebonyi State.

Dumka, one of the facilitators at the training observed that women and girls rights activists work under precarious conditions heightened by culture, ethnicity and other social variables.

She advised them to build understanding and collaboration with their focal communities, government and other fellow advocates/Organisations in order to achieve greater impact and safety in their mission.

Dumka explained:” Going by the happenings around us, you will observe that the violence that women experience differ, based on various factors which include locality, ethnicity, age, language, class and religion.

“Those also determine the kind of risks that women rights advocates face.

“So, to give a direct or specific mechanism to address these would be for me, that everybody should seek how to come up with initiatives that would mitigate the risks.

“Advocates should collaborate with other bodies, build networks with other Civil society organisations to form a formidable force.

“In that case, the activist is not standing alone but in unity with others whose capacity has been built.

“That will go a long way to help in the cause which the activist is advancing.

“Also, collaboration with government and the community where they work is very key, for them to have an in depth knowledge of the mission.

“That way, they will build support.”

Speaking on the accountability tools, the Lead facilitator, Mrs Rita Kigbara, listed some to include Citizens Score Card, Citizen’s Report Card and the Shadow Report mechanism, among others.

She noted that no particular tool was better than the other in making government accountable, and advised Right Organisations and CSOs to choose based on the peculiarities of their operative environments.

She said: The advocate chooses a tool or mechanism based on peculiarities of his environment.

“Due to our peculiarity in this region, we look at the Citizens Score Card as a very good tool to use.

“The process can bring the community who are the right holders, and the government as duty bearers together to collaborate and work towards ending violence against women and girls.

“Kigbara however, identified citizen’s lack of knowledge about government provided laws and institutions on VAWG as the greatest impediment to the fight against the menace in Ebonyi State.

“For me, I would say that the greatest impediment to the fight against violence against women and girls in Ebonyi State is the lack of awareness of citizens on the available laws and institutions against the practice

.”Most people do not even know that the government has a part to play in such a way as to demand for such actions by holding government accountable to implement the laws.

“That is apart from the issues of culture and age long traditional beliefs against women which is all over Africa.

“We need to change some of our cultures and norms to begin to help ourselves” Kigbara observed.

Speaking on the essence of the training, the Country Director, WILPF, Nigeria, Professor Joy Onyesoh, stated that it was aimed at working towards ensuring that Ebonyi State achieve zero tolerance to violence against women and girls.

Onyesoh, represented by the Project Officer, WILPF, Oluchi Esther Nwite, further charged Women advocates to fight for their rights the right ways without endangering their lives.

“We are here to build their capacity to begin to demand, ask questions and hold government stakeholders accountable to women, in line with provisions of the law.

“On the choice of Ohaozara and Onicha local government areas for the training, Onyesoh noted: ” from recent research, it has been discovered that there are rising cases of VAWG in Ohaozara and Onicha LGAs of the State.

“We earlier had community stakeholders dialogue alongside State actors on Wednesday in Abakaliki.

“It is time for women to stand up and begin to hold the Bull by the horn, and that is why we are building people’s capacities.”

In an interview, one of the participants, Mrs Cecilia Elom, Promised to step down the training to the rural communities. Elom, a Staff of Women Affairs department in the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, appreciated WILPF for the opportunity.

She enumerated some of the efforts of the Ministry in ending VAWG in the State to include setting up of a GBV taskforce as well as collaboration with organisations such as FIDA.

She also noted that the Ministry has a Social Welfare department working assiduously to ensure that violence against persons were reduced to the barest minimum in the State.

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