As part of activities to mark the start of this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign in Nigeria, women-focused nonprofits, community-based organisations, civil society organisations, and government agencies in Abuja, embarked on a sensitisation walk in the early hours of today, to create awareness and call for an end to gender-based violence or GBV.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that runs from November 25 to December 10 with the aim of raising awareness about violence against women and calling for its elimination. The campaign is run alongside the United Nations UNITE to End Violence Against Women campaign, which seeks to end violence against women by 2030.
The sensitisation walk began from Eagle Square and terminated at the Unity Fountain with hundreds of people holding placards with inscriptions like There’s no excuse for violence, Life without violence is a right, and silence allows violence.
While speaking at the event, Funke Oladipo, the Director, Women Development, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, urged Nigerians to work together and shun all forms of violence against women and girls as well as end the culture of silence.
“We need to break the silence around gender-based violence and that can only happen when everyone in society learns to speak up against it, whether they are directly affected or not,” she said.
The director also called on perpetrators of various forms of GBV to desist from it or face the wrath of the law. “Those who find pleasure in violating the rights of women and girls should know that the violence against women’s prohibition act will catch up with them and they will not go unpunished,” she said. Oladipo also urged victims of GBV to speak up and never hesitate to seek help when subjected to any form of GBV.
Speaking on the theme of this year’s campaign, UNITE! Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls, Debby Kalu, a women’s rights activist who works with the Institute of Human Virology, called on the international community and governments to increase investments towards the prevention of GBV.
Kalu also urged the public to increase awareness about the dangers of GBV. “People need to talk more about the ills and dangers of gender-based violence and begin to treat women’s rights as human rights that they are,” she said.
The women groups also call for equal representation in government for women in Nigeria to bridge the inequality gap. “Women are disadvantaged economically and politically in Nigeria. They should be given equal and equitable opportunities to enable them to function well,” Kalu said.
This story is part of Prime Progress’s series shedding light on women’s issues as part of the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence