By Emeka Nwokocha
Development Initiative for Community Impact (DICI), a Non-governmental Organisation (NGO), on Tuesday 7 December, 2021, held a stakeholders dialogue to promote collaboration to end violence against women, girls, and persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Delta state, and Nigeria.
The event was held in Warri, the economic nerve centre of Delta State, with a retinue of participants drawn from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), NGOs, Government agencies, communities, schools, and the media.
In her speech while declaring the session open, the Executive Director of DICI, Dr. (Mrs.) Rachael Misan-Ruppee, said that the event was part of the organisation’s activities to commemorate the ongoing 16-Days global activism which started on November 24, 2021.
Continuing, she said, “with support from Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND), our organisation, DICI, is holding this event as part of our numerous activities slated to mark this year’s 16-Days of Activism, a global campaign to end Gender-Based Violence that starts on the 25th of November, which is Interday Day of Elimination of Violence against Women, through 10th December, which is International Human Right Day.
“The 16-Days Activism is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.”
Continuing, she charged the participants to speak up against the rising incidents of gender based violence in the society, saying, “speak up for women; speak up for girls and persons living with disabilities who have become vulnerable in the society in recent times.”
Dr. Ruppee said, “the theme of this year’s event is, “Orange the world: End violence against women now!” On that note, we are here to discuss how we can collaborate to nip gender-based violence in the bud.
She noted that violence against women and girls have cultural underpinnings, stating that if society keeps quiet in the face of the rising crime, it will continue to hurt humanity.
“The ultimate goal of this event is building collaboration with everyone and stakeholders in order to put a stop to gender based violence,” she stated, even as she urged everyone to be champions and active bystander in their community, place of work and circle of influence, to end all forms of violence against women, girls, and persons with disabilities.
Speaking at the event, the Chairperson of FIDA, Warri, Delta State, Ogechi Megbele, Esq., commended DICI for putting the dialogue together. She said, “let us as stakeholders close ranks to curb violence against women and girls in our society.’
Continuing, she said, “let us close the gap, work together, and tell ourselves ‘No’ to the despicable act,” just as she advised families of victims not to negotiate and comprise legal cases when violence against women and girls happens.
She emphasized role of police in nipping the scourge in the bud, stating that the contacts of the officers at the gender desk at police stations across the state should be accessible to the public to enable prompt report of incidents of violence against women and girls to the police.
She said, “we need to have the contacts of those in charge of gender desk at the police stations in order to facilitate unfettered synergy in the fight against gender based violence.”
Megbele hailed Delta state government for enacting the Violence against Persons Prohibition law (VAPP Act), saying that FIDA would be activate a joint team of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to embark on a visit to the police stations to get the contacts of the gender desk offices so as to building a collaboration on how to fight gender based violence to stand still.
In the same vein, the Deputy Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Delta State, Ngozi Oyem, described the event as a welcome development, stating that concerted efforts were needed to address the menace of gender based violence in the society. She said, “NOA would partner with other stakeholders to take sensitization against gender based violence to the nooks and crannies of our society.
The keynote speaker and Executive Director of Ideal Women Advancement Initiative, Mrs. Bridget Affiah, Executive Director, Ideal Women Advancement Initiative, said that violence against women is an age long issue, stating that all hands must be on deck to fight the barbaric act.
Continuing, she noted the importance of data in enhancing the work of NGOs, CSOs, and the government in prosecuting perpetrators of the dastardly act.
Affiah faulted the Nigerian government for promoting policies that seriously undermine people with disabilities, noting that public infrastructure seldom have facilities through which people with disabilities could access them.
Affiah however, expressed concern about the unwillingness of women to expose their spouses when they perpetrate violence against them, saying that such cover up would jeopardize efforts to eradicate violence against women in the society. She charged women to speak up against all forms of violence meted out to them, even as she charged them to be courageous, warning, “violence against women will not be eradicated if we remain silent.”
She added, “don’t give anybody an opportunity to violate you or take you for granted.”
Continuing, she charged mothers to teach their male children to treat girls with dignity, saying, “teach your boys to treat girls right; teach your daughters to be courageous and determined to become whatever they wish to be in future.”
Speaking further, Affiah called on all stakeholders to stand up against rape culture, saying, “stand up against rape culture; say no to it; when something is bad, we must speak up.”
She called on men to support advocacy to end violence against women and girls.
The highpoint of the event was declaration of Action Point, whereby the participants made commitments to advance campaigns and advocacy against gender based violence across Delta state.
Helplines were given to the participants to give to their communities and places of work. Also, a simplified Delta State Violence Against Persons Law 2020 (VAPP Act) was distributed to participants.
Present at the event were Yemi Omire of PIND; representative of the Divisional Police Officer, ‘B Division,’ DSP. Justina Onwukwe; Kate Majomi from Ministry of Women Affairs; representatives of FIDA; representatives of NOA; representatives of Dore Numa College, Ugbuwangue Secondary School, Hussey College, Dore Numa College, Egbokodo Secondary schools, Ubeji Grammar School, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Warri North, Warri South and Warri South West, including Health care practitioners.