Wife of a former Ekiti State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, has urged Nigerian women to collectively fight back against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), urging people to stop fueling practices, beliefs and stereotypes that undermine the physical and emotional well-being of women and girls to combat all forms of SGBV.
She made the call on Monday in Abuja at the launch of maiden edition of 217-page ‘Womanity Index Report on SGBV: A Sub-National Assessment’ produced by BudgIT Foundation, Invictus Africa and Ford Foundation.
The report listed Abia, Ekiti, Imo, and Lagos states respectively as ‘Blue States’ under the Laws and Policies Index, due to the fact that they have established robust legal frameworks that criminilize SGBV and also outlawed customary and religious practices that perpetuate GBV.
Mrs Fayemi said that all harmful traditional practices which minimise the personhood of women must be avoided as well as the thriving culture of impunity, anchored on the shaming and intimidation of survivors resulting in lack of access to justice.
She noted that in June 2020, only 14 states in Nigeria had passed the VAPP Act and that it is now 35 states, including FCT, have passed the VAPP or at least have legislation to protect women from GBV.
“This is evidence that the June 2020 GBV State of Emergency declared by the Nigeria Governors Forum at the insistence of the NIGSF and the advocacy that has sustained it is working,” she said.
She also urged state governors to establish a Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC) in their respective states regardless of whether there is donor funding available or not.
She said, “GBV Survivors also need support to enable them make empowering choices. This is why we need a GBV Survivors’ Fund to make this happen. In Ekiti State, this fund has been used to help over 500 women seeking new accommodation, return to school or start a “alongside resources for the care of GBV Survivors, we need investments in our Mental Health infrastructure because of the links between mental health and GBV.”
The Country Director, BudgIT, Gabriel Okeowo and Executive Director, Invictus Africa, Ms. Bukky Shonibare said that the Womanity Index is an annual assessment and ranking of subnational governments based on their performance in advancing gender equality.
They said that the Index encompasses five domains of gender-based violence, women’s health, women’s economic empowerment, women’s political representation, and educational parity.
“The 2023 edition of the Womanity Index is focused on GBV, wherein states are assessed and ranked on their commitments to GBV prevention and response based on 20 indicators across five priority areas, laws and policies, access to legal justice, support services, information and awareness, and budget and expenditure,” it added.