By Mary Nnah
Wife of the Vice President of Nigeria, Mrs. Oludolapo Osinbajo, has described any form of gender-based violence in communities as “unacceptable source of pain and anguish”.
She therefore implored all forms of violence against women and girls must stop, saying that abuse of any form was wrong and against collective humanity.
She said this during the graduation ceremony for Out-of -School Girls Empowerment Programme organised by the Women’s Helping Hands Initiative with support from the United Nations, European Union and Spotlight Initiative held in Lagos recently.
“I am so happy to see very many happy faces today here as our young ladies graduate from the Spotlight Step Up Training and Empowerment Course. I commend the United Nations’ Spotlight initiative and this intervention towards ending gender-based violence in our community”, Osinbajo noted.
Describing every girl as special and precious, she congratulated the graduating students while applauding their hard work and dedication.
“I kept a close watch on the girls during the training and was impressed by their attendance at the classes and their keen participation throughout the courses. So, it gives me great joy to be present to witness their graduation.”
She saluted the teachers, instructors and of course the cook that fed the girls each day during the training programme.
“It is important for me to use every opportunity to remind us that abuse of every form – molestation, domestic violence, exploitation, slavery and such alike are all wrong and are offences against our humanity.”
While urging Nigerians to work as advocates on violence against the girl-child and women to enable them function at their optimal level, she noted, “whenever you see or hear, whenever you know of abuse, please stand up and speak up. Stand up to help the victims, let’s all be our brother’s keeper.”
Osinbajo implored further that beyond speaking up against abuse and standing up to resist and reject abuse in our communities, we ought to be advocates, persuading many people as possible to take the take the high road, the path of good, right, justice, fairness and equity.
She urged the out-of-school girls to live responsibly to be good role models to other girls around.
“I advise you to be hard working and know that you are to live responsibly to be good role models to other girls out there”, she said.
The beneficiaries received certificates and starter packs to enable them establish businesses based on the skills acquired.
The 370 empowered girls were from Ikorodu and Yaba Local Government Areas of Lagos and were trained on beading on fabrics, gele tieing, and party supporting services, decoration and make-up.
The empowerment programme was sponsored by the United Nations, European Union, and Spotlight Initiative in collaboration with The Women’s Helping Hands Initiative.