UN Women partner with traditional, religious leaders to eliminate GBV
By Mnena Iyorkegh, Abuja
The UN Women is partnering with Traditional and Religious Leaders in Nigeria on Customary and Formal Laws to ending Gender Based Violence.
The partners have converged on Abuja for a two-day knowledge-enhancing workshop to develop a work plan towards eliminating Violence Against Women and girls in Nigeria.
The training is aimed at building on the already-established capacities of traditional and religious leaders on eliminating harmful traditional practices against women and girls across the country.
In addressing the issues including female genital mutilation, money wife and other harmful practices, stakeholders at the workshop are advocating for a shift in attitudes and in some cases, the total abandonment of these practices.
The training is also to seek the abolishment of the practice of “money wife” by the Clan head, council of chiefs and all the village heads in Becheve community in Obanliku LGA.
The UN Women Country Representative in Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Beatrice Eyong, explained that Female Genital Mutilation is at 25% prevalence despite the practice being outlawed by the VAPP Act, which requires accelerated efforts to address the root causes of the gender based violence and harmful practices.
“There is no longer the excuse of ‘culture’ in defense of violence and harmful practices. I wish to commend the leadership of the Council of Traditional Leaders of Africa and all members for paving the way for Nigeria and indeed the African continent in this regard. To this end, the United Nations through UN Women and other Spotlight Implementing agencies will continue to advocate for local ownership of the front-line service centers to ensure survivors of FGM and those at risk of this practice receive the protection, access to justice and support that they deserve. We are pleased to be in continued partnership with the Council of Traditional and Religious Leaders in Africa (COTLA), to develop an advocacy toolkit that will guide the activities and approaches of these esteemed leaders in eliminating harmful traditional practices including child marriage and harmful widowhood rites”, Ms Eyong said.
She added that the workshop is highly commendable and shows that where there is a will and change can be made.
Recall that 32 States have passed the Violence Against Person’s Prohibition (VAPP) Act 4, in Nigeria.
The Head of EU Department Cooperation, Mrs. Cecile Tassin Pelser, has disclosed that the EU is investing in youth empowerment to address the devastating impact of harmful practices.
She said that harmful practices have a devastating impact on individuals and families.
“To break this cycle of inequality, girl’s education is key. This is why the EU is investing in a new Education and youth empowerment programme worth 40million EUR, aimed to improve access to safe, equitable quality education for girls in rural and under- served communities”, she said.
The Convener, Council of Traditional Leaders in Africa, Oba Aderemi Adedayo, the Ruler of Ido Osun, urged his colleague to intensify effort towards ending gender based violence.
“If you have want to go far, you must go together. As stakeholders, I want to appeal to you my colleagues that we don’t have much time on our side. We have long way to go and a lot to do. We have to support and intensify grass root movement effort against FGM and of course gender equality, conduct a gender responsive review of customary laws and address access to justice for victims”, he said
The session will further facilitate the development of a National Annual Work Plan for the Council of Traditional Leaders in Africa (COTLA) towards implementing the accountability framework and strengthening the coordination mechanism by COTLA.