Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Wife of the Senate President, Toyin Saraki, has decried the high rate at which children are dropping out of school even as she appealed to the media not shirk their responsibility to promote women’s rights.
Saraki expressed concern over the development yesterday in Abuja at a two-day conference organised by the Proactive Gender Initiatives, a non-govermental organisation with the support of the Ford Foundation.
The wife of the Senate President noted that despite the huge number of women in the country as well as their enormous responsibilities to societal growth and development, issues affecting women were often relegated to the background.
Represented by Mrs. Irene Samuel, Saraki said: “We must protect women and girls from violence acts such as rape, sexual, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment and discrimination.
“The media must be in the forefront of championing this cause by advocating for gender parity in the polity.”
In a keynote address, the Chairperson, Senate Committee on Women Affairs , Binta Garba, noted that consistent advocacy through community centered actions by civil society groups and media would help in the implementation of the national policy on HIV/AIDS and reproductive health.
“It behooves on community centered actions and advocacy for these protocols to take effect because left for government alone, the rights of women and youth would be near non-existence,” she said.
She noted the girl-child and women have to contend with numerous challenges some of which she identified as: violence in the home; sexual harassment; rape and defilement; female genital mutilation and forced childhood marriages.
Binta commended former governor of Lagos State, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who made it a policy in Lagos for women to occupy the post of the state’s deputy governor.
Speaking on the theme of the conference, ‘Women Rights, Youth and Media Advocacy,’ Garba expressed the hope that with sustained community action on government at all levels, the rights of women and youth would be entrenched.
She said: “Nigeria as a signatory to international protocols, conventions and treaties some which have been domesticated in the country is bound to honour these obligations with right advocacy which groups like Proactive Gender Initiative have been championing.”
Speaking earlier, the National Coordinator of the Initiative, Esther Uzoma said that 24 states have domesticated the Child Rights Act, adding that advocacy was still on to get other states that were yet to adopt the law to do so.
She stressed: “Violence Against Person Prohibition Act is a latest innovation in gender right,” adding that the organization is sensitising Nigerians on the beautiful provisions contained in the Act to ensure that law is domesticated.