Ford Foundation, WACOL, FAW partner to curb violence against women
The Women Aid Collective (WACOL) in partnership with the Ford Foundation (FF) and Fifty-Fifty Action Women (FAW) has taken up the gauntlet to address norms and practices that promote Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in the South East and South-South regions of the country.
To this end, the trio recently organised a Town Hall meeting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital. The meeting came on the heels of a three-day capacity-building training on the elimination of VAWG for magistrates in Abia, Imo, Enugu and Anambra states last month.
At the town hall meeting, Founder of WACOL, Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, told the participants comprising women, community, traditional and religious leaders, media practitioners and youths that the negative impact of VAWG has been devastating not only for the female gender but also for the entire society.
Ezeilo stated that tackling VAWG would require the collective action of all stakeholders, adding that the objectives of the town hall meeting included educating the stakeholders on harmful norms that promote VAWG, sensitising them on laws that protect women and girls against violence as well as promoting the strategies for ending VAWG.
She listed some harmful practices against women including female genital mutilation, widowhood practices, early girl-child marriage usually caused by paying off of debt owed by parents and teenage pregnancy, and female denial of inheritance, among others.
Participants, however, observed that some harmful practices against women were perpetrated by their fellow women and not by men. They also identified the root causes of the harmful practices as ancient traditional beliefs, family norms including stereotypes, government and institutions, law, religion, education and health.
To curb VAWG, the meeting recommended the setting up of a gender-balanced committee to review existing community bye-laws to make them gender sensitive; increasing media sensitisation and mobilisation against practices that promote VAWG; encouraging girl-child education and ending Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.
Others were stopping early child and forced marriage; stopping stigma against survivors of pre-marital pregnancy or children born out of wedlock; increasing sensitisation on the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) using all the available traditional and social platforms like churches, mosques, August meetings; and including women as members of the Traditional Rulers’ Councils to enable them to participate in decision-making that border on women’s issues and concerns especially the ones perpetrated by women to women.