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
FIDA Plateau on the 6th of July 2022, successfully sensitized the populace of Bukuru-Gyel Community of Plateau State on the rights of women and girls as well as the dangers of violating these rights.
Members of the community surveillance team on GBV earlier constituted on the project were reintroduced to a larger audience of the Jos South Traditional Ruling Council.
FIDA Plateau via her chairperson presented validated copies of the Community Action Plan to the Paramount Ruler of Jos South and members of the Traditional Ruling Council.
The council appreciated FIDA’s efforts toward curbing incidents of GBV in the community and pledged the Council’s commitment to supporting the implementation of the Action Plan. In furtherance of this commitment, the Council allocated an office space to the Surveillance Team to be manned by the Council’s Secretary. This would serve as a safe space where victims/survivors can walk to lodge their complaints.
FIDA Plateau went further to disseminate copies of Community Action Plans to other stake-holding groups across the community.
FIDA Plateau led by the Chairperson, Mrs. Ngozi Obioma Achilefu paid a visit to Methodist Primary school, beside EBOMI, Jos North to commemorate Children’s Day on the 27th day of May 2022.
The Chairperson talked on the topic _” Children the building blocks of the Nation.”_ She admonished the pupils to stay away from vices such as stealing and having sexual relationships which will deter them from attaining their goals. She also encouraged them to speak in the face of rape and other acts of violence committed against them or their loved ones as FIDA is always ready to defend them.
The Vice-Chairperson, Mrs. Felicia Emeruwa admonished them to stay away from drug abuse.
The Headmistress expressed gratitude to FIDA for choosing the school for this laudable event and prayed that God will continue to bless all FIDA’Sendeavours.
To round up the visit, there was dance and refreshments for pupils and their teachers.
Eliminating violence against women and girls requires a community-based, multi-dimensional approach (sensitization/campaigns), and sustained engagement with multiple stakeholders.
FIDA Nigeria, Plateau State branch; with support from the Ford Foundation, on September 23rd and 25th, took to the streets of Mangun Community, Mangu L.G.A and Gyel Community, Jos South L.G.A of Plateau State to sensitize a larger populace in the beneficiary communities on socio-cultural norms and vices that perpetuate gender-based violence as well as subjugate the rights of women and girls in these communities.
FIDA Team in the company of each community’s SGBV Surveillance Team participated in the walk, distributing pamphlets, while addressing issues peculiar to each community, educating the populace on the effects of these acts on the victim, community, and society at large; and possible sanctions against a perpetrator.
FIDA Conducts a 2-day Training Workshop on Enhancing Leadership Abilities In Community Women Leaders in Plateau State
FIDA Nigeria, Plateau State Branch with the support of Ford Foundation, carried out a leadership training program for 40 community women leaders in Gyel Community, Jos South LGA on the 5th and 6th day of July,2021.
The training was aimed at enhancing leadership abilities in community women leaders through building the participants’ understanding of traits, skills and strategies as well as the use of emotional intelligence in leadership and communication skills.
The training further emphasized gender inclusion as a necessary tool for promoting gender equality and accountability to women’s rights within the community.
At the end of the training, participants would be able to demonstrate an appreciation to lead community development.
On the 3rd and 4th of May 2021, FIDA Plateau, with the support of Ford Foundation, successfully implemented a 2-day Stakeholders workshop themed, “Elimination of Sexual and Gender-based Violence through Effective Implementation of the VAPP Act 2015 and other related Laws Protecting the Rights of Women and Girls in Plateau State”, Bukuru Gyel Community, Jos South L.G.A of Plateau State.
Outcomes of the workshop using stakeholders feedback methods include:
*An increased awareness of women’s rights.
*An improved awareness of GBV issues in relation to cultural, religious, and social practices within the community.
*A realization by stakeholders who doubles as the community’s gatekeepers on the need to promote attitudinal change within the community.
The Workshop spurred the need to generate strategies to mitigate acts of GBV within the community. A Gyel Community GBV Advocate Team was formed as a reinforcement to the Surveillance Team that was established earlier on the project.
In addition, the team developed an action plan to serve as a guide towards the actualization of ending the menace of GBV and the improvement of women’s rights within the community.
FIDA Plateau on the 25 of November 2020, in collaboration with NHRC, NBA and other CSOs had a rally to kick start the 16days activism. The walk was from the State Secretariat roundabout to the office of the Hon. Commissioner of Women affairs who flagged off the 16days activism on behalf of the first lady of Plateau State.
Members of The International Federation of Women Lawyers on the 17th of November, 2020, visited the Jesus Only Friend International Orphanage Home (JOFIN), Rukuba road, Jos Plateau state Nigeria, where they spent time with the children in the home who entertained them with beautiful drama and musical presentations. Donations of necessary materials was made to the home to support.
Issues posed by Human Trafficking were discussed, as well as probable solutions in curbing the effects of trafficking; furthermore, the role of FIDA in the protection of the vulnerable members of the society was also considered.
The 2020 Law Week Cake was cut and shared with the children
FIDA Nigeria, Plateau State held a Ford Foundation Project Inception Meeting in Gyel community, Jos South LGA.
The meeting which was held on Monday, the 19th of October, 2020 had all representatives of the community’s gatekeepers present among which was the Wife to the Local Government Man Jos South, Mrs. Patience Dachung who represented the Local Government Chairman.
The meeting commenced at about 1pm with a welcome/opening remark from the Branch’s Chairperson who in her remark urged the Stakeholders to cease the project’s intervention and make all necessary change and improvement around social norms that affects women, girls and the community as a whole.
A collaborative discussion session was held where Stakeholders were allowed to deliberate on their understanding of the project and what promotes Gender Based Violence in the community.
These issues alongside those that came up during the advocacy visits were adopted by the Stakeholders as areas where they are willing to tackle through the project’s intervention and the technical support of FIDA.
A surveillance team was established to serve as the eyes and ears on arising gender based issues around the community and escalate it to FIDA.
Stakeholders showed commitment to support the project. The wife to LG Chairman also assured FIDA of the backings of the Local Government Council in achieving the objectives of the project.
FIDA Nigeria, Plateau State branch with support from MacArthur Foundation organized a joint stakeholders meeting on the 16th of Oct 2020 with the Bar, Bench, Police Force and Correctional Services to review the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) of Plateau State and they highlighted the challenges faced by each stakeholder in implementing the ACJL, as well as creating an environment to enable networking to ensure effective implementation