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Day Anambra monarchs vowed to end Violence against women and children

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta

Women and children as most vulnerable groups in society should be protected especially against violence, intimidation, harm, marginalisation, deprivation and so on.

The call to eliminate all violence against women and children has been gaining momentum all over the world, prompting many to rethink and develop a workable avenue to getting critical stakeholders on board to collectively abolish such practices including in Anambra state.

For instance, at a multi-stakeholder strategic conference held in Nibo, Awka South local government area, on Saturday, August 27, 2022, where the Traditional Rulers Council of Anambra State, the WomenAid Collective (WACOL), Ministries of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Justice, Women Affairs and the 50/50 Action Women of Anambra State, and civil society organisations, with support from Ford Foundation West Africa, agreed to jointly work to eliminate obnoxious norms and practices affecting women and children.

The traditional rulers, who are chief custodians of cultural norms, came together under the aegis of Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers, led by its chairman, HRH Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha, and made some resolutions and commitments in furtherance of this objective.

The resolutions as clearly stated are, “That we condemn all forms of Violence against Women and Girls, including harmful practices and social norms in Anambra State, and commit to the empowerment of Women and Girls.

“That we are committed to eliminating harmful traditional practices such as widowhood practices; denial of inheritance, forced and girl child marriage, harmful rituals, exploitation and trafficking of women and girls, including degrading treatment and practices.

“The royal fathers further declared their commitment “to respecting the rights of women and girls as recognised in the state, national and international laws” as well as their willingness to support “actions to codify communal laws and regulations that will protect women and girls which include rejection of harmful traditional widowhood practices, including disinheritance of widows.”

The traditional rulers equally avowed their commitment to respect for the rights of widows and widowers and to the implementation of “the Supreme Court judgment that females have a right to inherit property from the family estate whether married or not.”

While also declaring their support for “inclusion of women in decisions affecting them,” the monarchs affirmed their willingness “to consider the inclusion of women in the leadership of traditional institutions” even as they stated their commitment to encouraging women’s leadership at the community level.

The royal fathers lastly avowed their commitment “to mediating and reporting women’s rights cases in line with state, national, regional, and international human rights legal frameworks”.

Consequently, the Founding Director of WACOL, Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, described the commitment of the Traditional Rulers Council of Anambra State as commendable and of monumental importance, while expressing optimism that such a gesture would move communities towards better development, as well as protect women’s rights.

“These resolutions and commitments by traditional rulers and other critical stakeholders, when fully implemented, would free Anambra state from all forms of violence against women and girls,” Ezeilo, a professor of public law, enthused.

Admittedly, many stakeholders would agree that if other traditional rulers as custodians of cultural norms could borrow a leaf from their Anambra counterparts to fighting violence against women and children, the spate of gender-based violence in society would be brought to barest minimum, if not completely eliminated.

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