WARIF Partners European Union, UN to Eradicate Gender-based Violence in Tertiary Institutions

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A cross section of African students in the library

Mary Nnah

The Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) has been awarded a grant by the European Union and UN under the “Spotlight Initiative” to reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

The Joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative is a global multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of sexual and gender-based violence against women through various implementation programmes and partners all over the world.

The Initiative represents an unprecedented global effort to invest in gender equality and women’s empowerment as a precondition and driver for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The project implemented by WARIF, commenced in January 2020 and aims to increase the awareness of sexual and gender based violence and reduce its prevalence by promoting the adoption of polices and strategies or assist in the strengthening of these policies where they already exist to prevent these acts of violence on campuses in select tertiary institutions in Lagos and Abuja.

These strategies will also work towards breaking the culture of silence that is pervasive in many of these institutions and reduce the overall incidence of sexual assaults in our universities and colleges.

The initiative will be implemented for a period of one year and will target an average of 10,000 students in these selected universities.

Speaking on the partnership, Founder of WARIF, Dr. Kemi DaSilva- Ibru, said, “WARIF is proud to partner with the UN and the EU on the Spotlight Initiative to reduce the prevalence of gender based violence in our tertiary institutions by working directly with the student based organisations and the school authorities in adopting strategies and facilitating and strengthening existing mechanisms that will provide the much needed support and safety to all students on campuses across the country.”

She revealed further that WARIF also intends to support all survivors identified in these tertiary institutions with free medical care, psychosocial counselling, legal assistance and welfare support.

On the prevalence of sexual violence in tertiary institutions, UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Comfort Lamptey, said, “Breaking the silence on sex for grades, and exposing the magnitude of the issue, is the first step to ending sexual harassment and violence in tertiary education institutions.

“We need laws and policies, both at the level of the institutions themselves and at the national level. As UN Women, along with our partner UN agencies, we remain committed to supporting the government and people of Nigeria to end sexual harassment in tertiary education institutions, and all forms of violence against women and girls”.

WARIF is a non-profit organisation founded in 2016 by Dr Kemi DaSilva Ibru MD;MPH in response to the high incidence of sexual assault, rape and human trafficking occurring amongst young girls and women across Nigeria.

The foundation was established to raise awareness and address the prevalence of this problem through the “WARIF Approach” – a unique holistic method of tackling Gender-based Violence through the development and implementation of a series of initiatives, targeting both the intervention/treatment of these affected women, as well as providing preventive measures in education and community service to reduce the high incidence.