The Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) has organised a capacity building for female traditional rulers ( Iyalodes) and female market women ( Iyalojas) in curbing sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls in Ondo State.

Speaking during the workshop in Akure, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, the Executive Director of WARDC, said that the project was with a support from Ford Foundation.

Akiyode-Afolabi added that the project  was implementing solidarity, accountability and commitments to ending violence against women and girls (SAC-VAWG) in the six South-West states in Nigeria: Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti.

She said that the project was to use available means in tackling sexual abuse and violence against  women and girls in the geo-political region.

According to her, the project is to  enhance engagement, capacity and accountability of community leaders and gatekeepers, including women agency, religious and traditional rulers.

“Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG), a major component of GBV, is a global act that has been on the increase and affects one out of every three females.

“The World Bank reported that 35 per cent of females globally have been sexually or physically abused by their partners and non-partners.

“Also, 7 per cent of females have been sexually assaulted by individuals that are not their partners.

“In general, over 80 million women and girls are victims of gender-based violence.

“The United Nations Population Fund study found out that 28 per cent  of Nigerian women aged 25-29 have been victims of physical violence since age 15,” she said.

The executive director explained that  domestic violence was common to all communities in Nigeria, and that it was mostly associated with a woman’s action or failure to act.

According to her, the participants have influential power to create awareness on laws against violence on women and girls in the society.

“Women also often suffer violence due to not meeting up with some socially accepted standard of behavior.

“For this reason, have we called on you female traditional leaders (Iyalode) and leaders of market women associations (Iyaloja) in Ondo state to discuss the burning issue of sexual and gender-based violence and how the association and the council can address this vice in our communities.

” We are to  build new ways and initiatives that deal with and confront cultural patterns of violence, dominance and power, while also empowering women and girls,” she stated.

Akiyode-Afolabi, who noted that the project was in collaboration with the State Ministry of Women Affairs and the Restoration of the Dignity of Womanhood(ROTDOW), said that violence against women was a violation of human rights.

She added that  violence was a major impediment to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

“Such violence harms women, their families and communities socially, politically and economically.

“It is now widely accepted that strategies to end violence against women and girls (VAWG) must include work with men and boys in other to identify promising approaches to ending VAWG as part of the need for a multi-sectoral responses to the ending of violence against women and girls,” she stated.

In her words, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Dr Adebunmi Osadahun , applauded the WARDC’s Executive Director for her resolve to end violence against women and girls in Nigerian society.

Osadahun asked female folks to have unity of purpose in defeating all forms of violence against women and girls.

She asked parents to stop showing preferential treatment for male children over female ones.

The commissioner said that  women should learn to be creative and  independent and not relying on men for their survival, saying they should use their initiatives and knowledge to make headway in life.

Osadahun urged the young girls to avoid places and things that could make them vulnerable to attack, adding that all cases of violence against them should be reported to appropriate authorities and relevant non-governmental organizations.

Similarly, the Special Adviser( SA) to the State Governor, Mrs Olamide Falana,  asked female folks to be united for a common goal of ending violence against them.

Falana said that the state government had put in place necessary mechanisms in addressing all forms of violence against women and children.

The SA promised that the government would support the association in achieving its aims of reducing violence against women  to the barest minimum  in the state.

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