European Union, United Nations, task traditional rulers, religious leaders on violence against women in Nigeria

The traditional rulers and religious leaders in Nigeria have been called upon to deploy their influence in mobilising community action to end violence against women and girls in the country.

Penpushing reports that, this was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a conference held on August 6, 2020 hosted online by the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) spotlight initiative to end violence against women and girls in Nigeria.

‘This is against the backdrop of increase in cases of violence against women and girls in Nigeria during the COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent declaration of a State of Emergency by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum’, the communiqué said.

The United Nations flag (L) is seen next to the European Union flag at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 14, 2016. / AFP / THIERRY CHARLIER (Photo credit should read THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP via Getty Images)

 Penpushing further reports that, the communiqué emphasised, “we encourage and ask our esteemed traditional and religious leaders to engage effectively in facilitating dialogues at community, local government and state levels”,

The Spotlight Initiative Accountability Framework adopted at the end of a virtual roundtable conference urged traditional and religious leaders to be committed to engendering actions to end violence and harmful practices, including female genital mutilation and child marriage, that have damaging effects on women and girls’ lives.

The  conference which lasted for about four hours anchored by Dr Seyi Soremekun, National Information Officer, United Nations Information Centre(UNIC) and Mrs Moji Makankuola, a veteran broadcast journalist had over 400 participants across leadership and government, academia, civil society, media  in attendance, and this include editorial board of Penpushing Media.

Penpushing also reports that, speakers at the event included the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, represented by the Chair, House Committee on Women and Social Development, Hon. Adewunmi Onanuga; His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council Islamic Council for Islamic Affairs, represented by HRH the 33rd Emir of Argungu, Alh. Sumaila Muhammad Mera.

The other speakers include; President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Benebo Fubara-Manuel; Hon. Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline K. Tallen; Deputy Head of the EU Delegation, Alexandre Borges-Gomes; United Nations(UN) Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, United Nations(UN) Heads of Agencies, as well as survivors, Women Advocates and Child Protection Networks.

Penpushing reports that, declaring the conference open, the Hon. Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen commended President Buhari for his targeted action towards the prevalence of violence against women and girls, through the instruction to the Minister of Justice to expeditiously establish an inter-ministerial Gender-Based Violence Management Committee to respond to cases of violence against women and children in Nigeria.

The United Nations(UN) Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Muhammed in her remarks to enjoin communities to take action to end violence against women and girls, said, “for those who turn a blind eye or deaf ear saying, it’s a private matter, know that you too are accomplices to violence…’

‘Because of these attitudes, millions of women and girls face a clear and present danger of the threat of violence and rape every day… Take responsibility. Speak up for women and girls… Let’s rally our communities to say no to gender-based violence”, she stressed

Penpushing further reports that, demanding that all stakeholders recognise the role and participation of women, the United Nations (UN) Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria referred to violence against women as a crime against humanity.

“There is no way Nigeria will develop without the full participation of women. Why should we continue eliminating them? Why should we continue harming them?”

The Spotlight Initiative virtual roundtable builds on past engagement with religious and traditional leaders, including with the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) and Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society (NASFAT) on the EVAC campaign, and holding them accountable to the communiqué signed at a Consultative Forum held on 26 February 2016 in Lagos, Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and girls is being implemented in six states including Adamawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Lagos, Sokoto and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),Abuja.

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