By Ndubuisi Francis
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, has called on women in leadership and decision-making positions to join in the fight against sexual violence and abuse against women and girls.
She also pledged her ministry’s commitment to support efforts by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to end violence against women and girls.
The minister made the pledge in Abuja at the national accountability town hall meeting to commemorate the 2020 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls.
While lamenting that the COVID-19 pandemic had heightened the gravity of violence and sexual abuse against women and girls, she noted that a recent European Union (EU) report showed that the 30 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 had experienced sexual abuse at one time or the other, while another report commissioned by the Ministry of Women Affairs and the United Nations Population Commission in support of Norwegian government also showed that 28 per cent of Nigerian women between the ages of 25 and 29 had experienced some form of violence at one time or the other.
Ahmed stated that in response to the rising cases of violence against women, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated an inter-ministerial committee on the eradication of sexual and gender-based violence against women, adding that state governors had unanimously declared a state of emergency on this.
A statement issued by the Director (Information), Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr. Hassan Dodo, said the minister added that her ministry will also organise a high-level stakeholders’ dialogue meeting to undertake their responses to stimulus packages, programmes, interventions and policies that are gender-sensitive, as well as how the ministry could use public finance management to strengthen and empower women.
She, however, called on women leadership and those in decision-making positions to join in the fight against sexual violence and abuse against women and girls, adding that: “Our voices counts and we must take action.”
In her keynote address, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Pauline Tallen, expressed appreciation to Ahmed for her strong commitment in supporting her ministry’s determination to check the increasing rate of gender-based violence against women and girls.
She added that her ministry is working with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to ensure aggregation of data and its impact on women.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed, in his welcome address, stated that Nigeria was committed to meeting the United Nations 2030 target of eradication of violence against women and girls.
While appreciating the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development for organizing this year’s annual event, the permanent secretary said that Nigeria was committed to using the instrument of law to ensure the achievement of the goal without fail.
He added that sexual abuse and violence are obnoxious crimes against women worldwide, expressing the hope that timely and prompt response towards it would be instituted.