More than 20 per cent of women have experienced sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria, with cases of sex for grades still prevalent in higher institutions, and these destroy the self-esteem of victims.
The country representative of the United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA), Ms Ulla Mueller, disclosed this at an event to commemorate International Women’s Day, organised by Lagos State University Centre for Response and Prevention, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, in collaboration with UN.
Mueller stated that women need to take the mantle of leadership and be resilient, adding that one in three women has experienced sexual gender-based violence (SGBV), while sex for grades in institutions of learning impedes the development of women, as victims suffer from self-esteem issues.
“A recent nationally representative survey of female population (students, support staff and teaching faculty) institutions of higher education showed that 20 per cent of the survey participants experienced various forms violence including sexual harassment, stalking, assault, dating violence, denial opportunities and promotions, sex grades, bullying, online violence, in the last one year on campus,” Mueller stated.
She advised the government that paedophiles and sex offenders should have their names listed on the sex offenders list to serve as a deterrent.
While highlighting SDG5 as an enabler of gender equality in society, Mueller said the UNPFA is promoting this course with the mentor/mentee programme for women to embolden, protect, and stand up for each other as the UNPFA is committed to ending SGBV cases while supporting gender equality to innovate in the technology space.
The UNPFA country representative applauded the pro-women initiative of the Lagos State University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, since her assumption of office while congratulating the institution for the mentorship programme to canvass for a noble course for women and the girl-child.
Olatunji-Bello explained that with sexual gender-based violence being predominant among issues affecting women globally, women are charting a new course in development and have been deferred to take up leadership roles.
She stated that innovation in technology with gender equality would be a gender response to engaging in technological advancement in digital technology to meet the SDG 2030 target set by the United Nations.
While calling for women to be encouraged and nurtured in technology, she also tasks the government to protect women in politics.
Olatunji-Bello further clamoured for a level playing ground for both sexes, calling for the women and girl child to be resilient and break barriers to end sexual and gender-based violence.
Experts at the plenary session agreed that as gender inequality impedes the development of females, it also impacts the digital gender gap in economic and social inequalities.