Tuesday, 12 April 2022

GBV: NGO Inaugurates Women Advocacy Group To Tackle Obnoxious Customs In Anambra State





In a swift response to the spike in cases of Violence Against Women And Girls (VAWG) in Anambra State, and to properly position women advocates to respond effectively to the menace particularly, harmful cultural practices against women and girls in the state, the WomenAid Collective (WACOL), has on March 30-31, 2022 in Awka, the Anambra State capital, held a two-day 'Women's Rights Advocacy and Leadership, Training of 50/50 Action Women for the Elimination of  VAWG in Anambra State.

The group was carefully selected, and trained in areas of Women's Rights Issues, VAWG in Nigeria, Women's Transformational Leadership for the realization of women's rights, Human Rights of Women in International, Regional, and National Instruments and relevant SDGs, Advocacy and Lobbying, Networking and Collaborating for Change, as well as the Role/Mandate of Women Fifty- Fifty Advocacy Group.

WACOL plan to train a total of 350 women across seven (7) states of the Igbo land and Niger Delta including; Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Imo, Delta, Ebonyi, and the Edo States.

Speaking on behalf of the Founding Director of WACOL Prof. Joy Ezeilo (OON), Mrs. Egodi Igwe the Program Officer, and Head of Communications of WACOL, welcomed the trainees and encouraged them to participate actively in the training by paying attention as well as making a valid contribution. She also explained the aim, and objectives of the project as well as the importance of the training the activists.

She explained that under the project, WACOL is engaging with relevant stakeholders in seven (7) different states; five (5) South East (SE) states, and two (2) South-south (SS) to review cultural norms and practices that promote violence against women, with aim of changing the narratives.

"We are presently partnering with the Ford Foundation on a project to translate and transform the social norms in the South-East and South-South of Nigeria through engagement with women's Rights Advocates, and traditional and judicial institutions. The objective of this project is to engage with relevant stakeholders in different states to understand and document norms and practices that positively or adversely affect women and girls' rights and general equality in rural communities.  We are also working on ensuring the elimination of Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) and the operationalization of the state of emergency on SGBV declared by the Governor's forum in 2020" Egodi noted.

 In their separate  goodwill messages, the representatives of relevant ministries including; ministries of Women Affairs,  Justice, and Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs unanimously agreed that there is an urgent need to intensify action on ending VAWG in the state, and made commitments towards eradicating the scourge, and to sustain the mutual partnership with WACOL in the fight.

In her speech, Ms. Chinelo from the office of local government (LG), chieftaincy, and traditional rulers, in particular, assured that her ministry is working tirelessly in curbing VAWG in the communities, sighting an example of the latest violence meted out against a woman in Aguleri who was accused of killing her husband, and how the traditional ruler intervened in collaboration with other stakeholders to save the woman from further dehumanization.

Also speaking at the event, a one-time commissioner of Women Affairs Anambra State, Dean Emeritus, Faculty of Mass Communication UNIZIK, Prof Stella Okunna, expressed concern and dismay over the increased rate of VAWG in the Anambra communities and encouraged the participants in the training to leverage the opportunity provided by the capacity to gain skills in preventing any form of VAWG to be able to fight the scourge.

Okunna, who is also the first female professor of Mass communication, however, extolled the sterling efforts of WACOL in promoting and protecting the interest of women, girls, and children. She further, commended the organisation for the current initiative of empowering women, and girls in society, and pledged her total commitment to the course.

The WACOL 50/50 Action was drawn from community women leaders, female lawyers, market leaders, media leaders, female students leaders, politicians, and women traditional title holders.

ABOUT WACOL

WACOL was established in 1997 as an independent, non-political, non-governmental and non-profit organization; registered as a company limited by guarantee i.e. as a charitable organization (RC: 388132). WACOL's vision is a democratic society free from violence and abuse, where the human rights of all particularly women and young people are recognized in law and practice.  Its mission is to assist in the education, social, economic, and political development of women and young people through a wide range of services: training, research, advocacy, shelter, free legal and financial aid, intra-familial conflict resolution, and information and library services. WACOL work throughout Nigeria and in the West African sub-region and its offices in Nigeria are located in eight states namely: Abuja (FCT), Enugu, Katsina, Owerri, and Port Harcourt, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Abia states. WACOL in general works in four thematic areas namely; gender/human rights, peace advocacy/conflict resolution, democracy/good governance, and reproductive health /rights.

WACOL has established itself as a credible and committed organization whose work is well recognized beyond the shores of Nigeria. It has had observer status with the African Union, African commission on human rights since 2003 and it also has an NGO Special Consultative Status with the United Nations approved in 2010 by ECOSOC.

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