FIDA launches campaign against gender-based violence in Plateau
It was a moment for sober reflection for some elderly women who had been victims of gender-based violence, when the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Nigeria, Plateau State chapter, staged a campaign against sexual and gender-based violence in Gyel community of Jos South Local Government Area of the state.
The campaign began with the presentation of an action plan against gender-based violence to the Dagwom Rwey of Jos South, Da Ngah Dangyang, with a strong call to key into the fight against cultural norms that were injurious to women.
A 73-year-old woman, Esther Williams, who was a victim, said she was denied access to education because of her male siblings. She said she was made to work in the farm and do other menial jobs to sponsor the education of her brothers.
Esther said her father did not give her anything as inheritance but willed all his property to her brothers.
She said: “This reminded me of what happened when we were children. There was sentiment against the girl-child, whereby the boy-child would be sent to school and always protected. We are happy that such cultural norms are being addressed for a healthy society.
“For some of us, we were denied education only for our male siblings to go to school, while we don’t share in the inheritance of our parents. This practice set back the African society, which affected us greatly.”
The state chairperson of FIDA, Mrs. Obioma Achilefu, who led hundreds of women to Gyel community market and COCIN secondary schools to sensitize women and girls on their rights in the society, such as right to education like the boy-child, said gender violence should be avoided for the development of society.
Achilefu told the traditional ruler to use his office and ensure that women in the community got their share of the inheritance of their parents, which is currently being left as birthrights for the menfolk.
She noted that most women were dying in silence in their homes due to the previlence of gender-based violence that inflicts pains and agony on them.
According to her, the project, which was sponsored by Ford Foundation and implemented by FIDA, was aimed at sensitizing women and girls on their rights and to kick against all forms of gender-based violence.
She said: “We are happy that the key players have agreed on an action plan to ensure that all the socio-cultural activities that affect women negatively are nipped in the bud.
“We are here to disseminate the action plan and to create awareness for those whom these norms have not helped. We talking about norms such as women not having right of inheritance, culture of genital mutilation, rape and all forms of gender-based violence.
“We have come to tell the community that everybody should rise up, everybody should speak out, people should not keep quiet when there is gender-based violence, children should be exposed to education to have them understand the right that the laws of the land has given them.”
Former commissioner of justice, Plateau State, Olivia Dazyam, appreciated the Ford Foundation for sponsoring the programme and Gyel community for embracing the programme to correct most societal ills.
“We have challenges of sexual and gender-based violence in the community and female disinheritance, widowhood and dangerous practices such as rape and domestic violence, among others.
“For two years now, we have been interacting and empowering the community to arise and speak out against the dangerous practices. We are happy that, at the end, the community came out with an action plan that they will pursue to ensure the practice of sexual and gender-based violence are eliminated in the community,” she said.
The programme officer, FIDA, Plateau State, Rita A. Lasoju, and former chairperson of FIDA, Plateau State, Mary Izam, said the programme was to create awareness on gender rights among women and girls.
Lasoju noted that there has been prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence, female disinheritance, economic violence, and rape, among others. So, the community came together and developed an action plan to tackle the menace in the area.
The secretary of Dagwom Rwey of Jos South, Jonathan Dangyang, said the traditional institution has accepted the project and would do everything within the ambit of the law to minimize and eliminate gender-based violence in the community and ensure equal rights between the boy-child and the girl-child.
The sensitization walk enlightened people against the danger of sexual violence such as rape, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and harmful traditional practices, among others.
by Gyang Bere