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WACOL: Stakeholders advocate abolishment of norms, practices encouraging violence against women in Anambra

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta

Traditional Rulers, community leaders, women leaders, academia and other stakeholders have agreed to jointly eliminate obnoxious norms practices promoting violence against women and girls in Anambra state.

The resolution was made at a one-day multi-stakeholder strategic conference organised by WomenAid Collective (WACOL) in collaboration with the Anambra State Ministry of Local Government Area and Chieftaincy Affairs.

While welcoming participants to the conference, the convener, and WACOL Founding Executive Director, Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (OON), decried the spate of human trafficking and other violence against women in Anambra, and called for concerted actions to end such violence.

Prof. Ngozi Ezeilo addressing participants

Ezeilo, a professor of public law said, “this conference is projected to enable us adopt effective resolutions on the protection of Women’s Rights and elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls through tackling of harmful traditional practices and gender biased customary laws targeting women negatively”, adding that such gesture would move communities towards better development.

In a remark, the Commissioner for Local Government Area and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Tony Collins Nwabunwanne, commended the organisers and pledged his support to all stakeholders in ensuring that certain practices are abolished, while calling for reorientation and advocacies to schools and communities. He said the state government was committed to obtaining justice to women and all other persons.

Also, the Commissioner for Lands, Prof. Offornze Amucheazi, SAN, who spoke on “Violence against women and girls: The cultural perspective”, stressed the need to protect women, saying that women have been subjected to physical, emotional, sexual and economic violence. He called for elimination of practices such as preference to a male child, harmful widowhood practice, cultural norms, exclusion from governance, denial of ownership of properties, among others.

Prof. Offornze

The Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Mrs. Ify Obinabo, regretted that she had received 85 rape cases since she assumed office, while describing the development as unfortunate and saddening. She said the state government led by Gov. Charles Soludo, would not leave any stone unturned in ensuring speedy dispensation of justice. Hon. Obinabo said that parents should train both their male and female wards, even as she fingered less training of the boy-child to rising cases of domestic abuse.

Hon. Obinabo giving a remark at the conference

The Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Sylvia Chika Ifemeje, represented by the Director, Administrator General/Public Trustee, Ministry of Justice, Awka, Barr. Nkeiru Mokwe said the Attorney General had been fighting for women prior to her appointment, assuring that she would continue to use her current position to secure justice for women.

Cross section of participants

The former FIDA chairperson, Prof. Ogugua Ikpeze, in a presentation on “Elimination of violence against women and girls, harmful practices and protection of women’s reproductive health & rights”, identified ignorance, environmental, customs/traditional practices/norms, mentality of superiority, mentality of property, and so on, as causes of violence. To eliminate violence against women, Prof. Ikpeze called for sensitization and advocacy, town hall meetings, good reporting system and documentation of cases on gender-based violence.

L-R: Prof. Ikpeze, Barr. Mokwe and Prof. Offornze during the conference

Prof. Stella Okunna, the first female professor of Mass Communication in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa, had in a remark, decried marginalization against women, and reiterated the need to provide enabling environment for women to showcase their talents. Prof. Okunna, who is also the deputy vice-chancellor, Paul University, Awka, stressed the importance of including religious leaders and ministry of education in the subsequent conferences to better get the messages across to communities.

Prof. Okunna addressing the participants during the WACOL one-day conference

Earlier, a representative of Ford Foundation, Olufunke Baruwa, linked inequality to injustice, while enjoining participants to lead the desirable change, so other states could borrow a leaf.

Some of the traditional rulers and participants in their different reactions, assured to work collaboratively in eliminating violence against women and girl child. They commended the WACOL team and partners, urging them not to rest on their oars.

Organisers in a group photograph with the traditional rulers who graced the occasion

The Women Aid Collective (WACOL) is a not-for-profit civil society organisation, registered in Nigeria and operating across West Africa and globally. WACOL work in the past 25 years has gained local to global reputation as consistent advocates for the protection and promotion of the rights of persons especially the women and young people. The organisation also works in the area of social reforms, policy formulation and advocacy for the implementation of laws that promote the rights of women and gender equality.

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