– By Patrick Ochei
A Non Governmental Organization under the aegis of Women Aid Collective (WACOL), has called on Government at all levels, traditional institutions and stakeholders on gender based issues to initiate legislation that will encourage gender balancing while criminalizing offenders against women and girls in the country.
This advocacy was one of the solutions proffered by resource persons during a one-day Consultative Meeting with Gatekeepers and Duty Bearers in Delta State on Ensuring the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls and the Operationalization of the State of Emergency on SGBV Declared by the Governors’ Forum, held at Larema Int’l Hotel, Asaba, Delta State on March 25, 2021.
In her remarks as the Chairman of the discussion session, Her Royal Majesty, Obi Martha Dunkwu, the Omu Anioma and Nneoha, posited that except the girl child is given adequate education both in the formal and informal education, the problem of relegation and violence against women and girls would continue.
Omu Dunkwu said that leaders must reenact the values and morals of the past, which she said are lacking in present day Nigeria as a result of lack of proper mentoring.
The cerebral Mother Without Borders urged various NGOs in the country to as a matter of urgency begin to convoke fora where highly placed leaders and individuals are brought to tell their stories to the younger ones.
According to her, “we must talk to the young ones. We must let them know that those who had achieved success in life that they view as their problems never became successful accidentally, they started from somewhere. These are how societies are modeled and built in advanced world, where successful individuals are engaged by NGOs to speak to younger generations by telling their life stories.
“I challenge the youths, in particular girl youths to stop being deceived that the future belongs to them. In today’s world, you must take the future by yourself and for yourself by tenaciously acquiring education. Then you must be incisive, daring, helping where help is needed, bold, confident and understanding your rights and purpose in creation.
“Until the boy children are given moral trainings as the girls from their formative stages of life, I am afraid we will continue to talk about gender based violence and all the assaults on women and girls. This is where the women have also failed in being proper mothers. When we talk about men misbehaving, they were children of women, brought up by women and most of them equally encouraged by women to keep misbehaving.
“We must look at the issue at hand holistically if we must achieve mileage in this discourse. We must equally have programmes and fora to talk to the men to be more accommodating and be friendly to allow women as wives, children, staff, colleagues to achieve their purpose in life.
“We have all failed humanity as leaders. We have failed the girl child and even the boy child who does not understand how to behave and be nice from childhood. We must correct these anomalies by going back to the drawing board”, Omu Anioma insisted.
Meanwhile, various speakers looked at the challenges of women in the areas of unfair traditional practices, the use of women themselves to promote unfriendly cultural practices against women, illiteracy, not getting them involved in decision making and as a result women are denied rights of inheritance from their fathers’ properties.
However, the following solutions were proffered to encourage gender balancing in Delta and beyond.
First, that Government should enact laws o criminalize the denial of rights of women to inheritance.
Second, that Government should engage traditional rulers on the need to include women in critical decision making organs of their communities.
There should also be the need for constant advocacy to sensitize women and men to change their negative mindset orchestrated by encouraging negative implications of cultural practices against women.
Moreover, that the Legal Aid Council should set up legal units to fight for indigent women, while lawyers at all levels should be encouraged to give free legal services to women facing gender based violence.