From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs statewide federal government drive to tackle the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence has received strong support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
According to a statement issued by Special Adviser, Media Federal Minister of Women Affairs, Ohaeri Joseph, the UNICEF Deputy Representative, Programs, Rownak Khan, reaffirmed the organization’s support during a visit to the Minister of women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye.
According to her, the visit was arranged to acquaint the Minister with the risks and deprivations children experience in Nigeria, as well as provide an update on the statutory role of the Women Affairs Ministry to promote the rights, general welfare of children and women and enhancing their ability to realize their full potentials, including the transformative actions currently undertaken in collaboration the UNICEF to improve the protective environment, strengthen systems to leave no child behind and accelerate actions towards the attainment of Sustained Development Goals 5, 8 and 16.
Khan said, the global body has structured areas of priorities to run between 2023 and 2024 which focuses on legal and programing frameworks, service delivery, capacity strengthening, evidence building, digital transformation and coordination and partnerships.
She disclosed further that though there is a weak institutional capacity,” a national survey to obtain administrative data indicates that there are well over 122,968 children (5,558 girls and 117,410 boys) known to be in detention facilities across 26 states in Nigeria between 2018 and 2022, urging that alleged offenders and survivors of violence require specialized services that are age and gender-sensitive to safeguard their rights and to enable them access quality response services” she added.
Khan also outlined the some states with prevalent cases of sexual and gender-based violence such as Lagos, FCT, Ebonyi, Cross Rivers, Adamawa and Sokoto states, Female Genital Mutilation in Ebonyi, Imo, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Rivers, Ondo, Edo and Kwara states and Child marriage in Sokoto, Katsina, Jigawa, Kano, Yobe and Borno states, emphasizing the need for strong institutional framework and enforcement capacity to investigate and address sexual and gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and child marriage.
Responding, the Minister of Kennedy-Ohanenye commended UNICEF for remaining steadfast in its drive to improve on the wellbeing of women and children in Nigeria and stated that “though several global experience abound on sexual and gender-based violence and other related social vices, there is need for UNICEF to review the Nigerian context and provide technical support to align with peculiar situations in the country.”
She also reaffirmed the Ministry’s commitment to fighting female genital mutilation vigorously, which has received support from President Bola Tinubu under the Renewed Hope agenda, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector-General of Police, and the State Governors’ Forum.
The minister continued by saying that procedures were being developed, including the use of Mobile courts to prosecute and punish offenders as well as whistleblowers, community-based awareness campaigns, media participation, and inquiry.
As part of initiatives to further empower women in Nigeria to take part in worthwhile endeavours that will increase their economic capacities to support their husbands and meaningfully contribute to national growth, she also disclosed her plans to work towards reviving local women meetings across the country into Cooperative Societies.
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