The Women Aid Collective, WACOL in collaboration with Ford Foundation has embarked on a consultative meeting with Abia State Gatekeepers and Duty bearers in its efforts to ensure the total elimination of Violence Against Women and Girl child, VAWG and the operationalization of the State of Emergency on Sexual and Gender-based Violence, SGBV declared by the Governors Forum.
The Meeting which took place at Abia Hotels and Recreational Park, Umuahia had in attendance Paramount Rulers , Representatives of Traditional Institution , President Generals , Youth Wings , Women Leaders of the various Town Unions and the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
Speaking during the meeting, the Founder and Director of WACOL , Prof. Joy Ezeilo enjoined the Traditional Rulers who are the Chief Security and custodian of Custom/tradition of their communities to help see to the full implementation of the State of Emergency on rape and other sexual offences; even as she advocated that all Traditional Rulers should have a copy of Violence Against Persons Prohibition, VAPP law.
Ezeilo represented by WACOL Senior Programme Officer, Ijeoma Uzoeshi said the appreciation of provisions of relevant state laws like the VAPP Law of the Federal and State Governments, the Child’s Right Act/Law, relevant constitutional matter, treaty ratified by Nigerian Government is of significance to women and girls and the status of their implementation is vital.
She passionately appealed to the Traditional Rulers to help eliminate all forms of SGBV and cultural practices that are discriminatory and reinforces violence against women.
Ezeilo made it clear that when such obnoxious laws which most of them are unwritten are expunged, unhindered development will be greatly witnessed in the Nigeria society.
In her speech, the Permanent Secretary , Abia State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Lady Onyinyechi Nwachukwu represented by Mrs Chinyere Nwogwugwu, Director Women Affairs pointed out that the vision and mission of WACOL is part of the Ministry’s activities geared towards assisting the Vulnerable and in bringing to a stop Gender-based violence in the state inorder to attain sustainable development goals.
She pointed out that the Wife of the Governor, Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu, her foundation, Vicar Hope and Partners have recorded some successes in broadening institutional response to the gender based challenge, as the State House of Assembly were able to pass the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law, which had stagnated before the Assembly for several years before Governor Okezie Ikpeazu administration came on board.
She extolled the commitment of Mrs Ikpeazu to assist to the effective implementation of the VAPP law in Abia state.
In their respective speeches, the second Deputy, Eze Harry Ugoala, third Deputy Abia State Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Godfrey Onwuka among other Traditional Rulers who spoke, lauded the WACOL for the consultative meeting and assured that the Abia State traditional Institution is always responsive to the fight that will eliminate the scourge of gender-based violence.
They pointed out that most of their communities have expunged cultural practices that is inimical to the progress of their various Communities adding that if there exist a remnant, they will go back and reason with their subjects and fashion out ways to addressing them.
The event featured paper presentation such as, The effect of VAWG in the development dearth in our Communities (by Barr. Chidinma Alozie and Assessing the rights of Women and Girls in Abia state (by Barr. Akachi Nwogu). A Paper presentation on specific practices that reinforces Gender inequality in different communities of Abia State.
In conclusion, another key Resource Person , Mrs Egodi Igwe analysed the mapped out strategies and Advocacy messages to the government on implementation of the State of Emergency on Rape and other Sexual Offences.
In all, the Participants also identified cultural practices that promote VAWG thereby analysed the threats for women and proposed actions to eliminate them.
WACOL Project is implemented in 7 States namely Enugu , Imo , Abia , Ebonyi , Delta and Edo States.