WISCAR champions private sector-led Gender-Based Violence fund

To increase awareness on the negative effects of Gender Based Violence (GBV) on society and workplaces, Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR) has created a private sector-led GBV Fund to provide financial support, facilitate collaboration, promote innovation and accountability with potential huge return on investment for private sector institutions.

To increase awareness on the negative effects of Gender Based Violence (GBV) on society and workplaces, Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR) has created a private sector-led GBV Fund to provide financial support, facilitate collaboration, promote innovation and accountability with potential huge return on investment for private sector institutions.
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With the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (VAPP), 2015 enacted to eliminate violence in private and public life, domesticated in only 28 out of 36 states in Nigeria, the challenge of getting states to budget for the implementation of the law still remains.

This was the thrust of discussions at stakeholders convening towards the establishment of the pioneer private sector-led GBV Fund in Nigeria and West and Central Africa, with support from UN Women & the EU Spotlight Initiative, held recently in Lagos.

Speaking at the convening, Founder/Chairperson of WISCAR, Amina Oyagbola, said: “The private sector has immense market power and influence and can mobilise resources for socio-economic development. It is the organised private sector capability that we seek to leverage through this convening to establish the first private sector-led GBV Fund in Nigeria.

“GBV reduces productivity, increases healthcare costs, and undermines social cohesion. Furthermore, it perpetuates poverty, inequality and discrimination. We must ensure that everyone, regardless of gender, is able to live and work in safety and dignity. We must do so with a sense of urgency, recognising that every moment we delay and ignore the violence that is present in our work place and communities is a moment in which lives are not only negatively impacted but often lost completely.”

For the UN Women Representative to Nigeria And ECOWAS, Beatrice Eyong, one in three Nigerian women have experienced physical violence at the age of 15.

“In 2022 alone, nearly 2,000 women accessed its One Stop Centres in Sokoto and Lagos States. Let us bear in mind that this is data from only two centres in only two states. These are only data of those who reported instances of violence. We are only seeing the tip of an iceberg of a truly insidious social ill,” she said.
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Eyong stressed that GBV accounts for up to 50 per cent of workplace absences among women in Nigeria, resulting in significant losses in productivity, particularly at the less senior levels, where – because of gender inequality – women are underrepresented.

“It is a reputational and financial risk for companies to not address the violence that takes place in their organisations. In the US, since 2010, employers have paid out $700 million to employees alleging harassment in pre-litigation processes alone.

“With the commendable rate at which the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act has been passed by states in the last two years, we can be sure that more survivors will seek access to recourse and redress,” Eyong added.

She noted that a key outcome of the private sector-led GBV Fund would be to strengthen the capacity of companies to transform their policies and ensure workforce satisfaction and safety.

In her remarks, the Executive Secretary, Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA), Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, said violence against women and SGBV in general remain a globally pervasive human rights violation.

“The Lagos State Government under Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration has declared zero tolerance for all forms of SGBV crimes, which is evident through the enactment of relevant laws and formulation of policies, targeted at preventing, responding and providing support services to survivors of SGBV.

“The state has scaled up its response machinery through the establishment of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency. We have also recently secured a shelter for survivors of domestic violence, a haven where survivors can find solace and safety. The 20-bed space would be open to survivors at the end of the month,” she said.

She added that it was time for the public and private sectors to assume responsibility; go beyond condemning this behaviour and take proactive measures to end SGBV.

“We must make it socially unacceptable and recognise that it is not cultural but rather criminal,” Vivour-Adeniyi stressed.
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