By Kuni Tyessi
A non governmental organisation, PLAN International has revealed a four-year mandate which is expected to support 10 million Nigerian girls in its health support against gender-based violence.
Through its Learn, Lead, Decide and Thrive programme, it is expected to transform the power of relations in their psychological pattern, hence building further the momentum and achievements made in previous years through the campaign towards ending the rising prevalence of gender violence.
The acting Country Director of PLAN International, Ms. Jummai Musa Lawan, who revealed this in Abuja, said despite efforts made over two decades, violence against women and girls have continued to escalate to pandemic proportions as a result of the existing culture of silence and stigmatisation.
In its 2020 programme in collaboration with #16 Days Gender Activism to end GBV, and with the theme “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect”, she added that not even the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law has reduced the prevalence of the incidences which has assumed the status of impunity.
Acknowledging that gender-based violence is a universal reality which kills and disables many women and is worse than the threat of cancer and malaria combined, she noted that in Nigeria, women between the ages of 15 and 44 are the most affected.
According to her, “we are guided by the commitment to ensure that by 2024, 10 million Nigerian girls would be supported to Learn,Lead, Decide and Thrive through the transformation of power relations in their favour.
“Our focus on girls especially adolescent girls, is determined by the rights of these girls to be seen, to be heard, to have a say in how their own future will be shaped.
“Within the Nigerian patriarchal society, women and girls are often suppressed and denied the right to participate in decisions affecting their lives. That’s inhuman acts have continued to prevent them from achieving their maximum potentials and compromise their physical and psychological integrity.”
In her remark, Human Rights activist and Co-convener of the Bring Back our Girls, Mrs. Aisha Yesufu, said for women and girls to be empowered economically and educationally, the fight must start from the family setting as male relations are usually the perpetrators of gender violence.
She said: “Women are abused and violated not because of gender but because of their power as compared to that of the men. It is the power that we have that has made us victims. We can’t arrange the world when we haven’t started in our homes.
“Gender violence is not gender based but power based. How do we take away or take care of that power? We will continue to have #16 days of activism against GBV if we do not give quality education to our girls. Until our girls are safe in our homes and are made to believe they are unlimited, they will continue to be abused.”