ABUJA (Women Affairs Ministry Report) – The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is to partner with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA) in the fight against the growing cases of Gender – Based Violence (GBV) and HIV/AIDS in the country.
This was the high point of a meeting between the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Habiba Lawal and the Deputy Country Director of USAID in Nigeria, Masauso Nzima held in Abuja recently.
Habiba Lawal, who expressed serious concern over the increasing cases of GBV in Nigeria regretted that violence against women in particular hinders progress in the achievement of development targets in Nigeria. She observed that despite the growing recognition of violence against women as a public health and human rights concern and of the obstacle it posed for development, not much has been done to tackle the menace.
According to her, “violence against women is an everyday occurrence and it comes in several forms. While the most commonly identified are domestic violence and rape, there are several other more specific forms of acts identified as gender-based violence.”
She intensified that gender-based violence involves women in conflict situations, trafficking in women, widowhood rites, female genital mutilation, early and forced marriages as well as sexual assault, among others. She also pointed out that Nigerian women have had these acts inflicted upon them under the guise of cultural practices and other forms of social discrimination.
“The patriarchal nature of our communities permits women to be subjected to many of these practices which also expose them to various health hazards, including HIV/AIDS,” she hinted.
Habiba Lawal disclosed that such violent acts could also negatively affect the lives of their children; stressing the need for stronger action towards empowering women, promoting gender equality and curbing all forms of violence against women. She further noted that the on-going review of the National Gender Policy 2005 will not only assist government in tackling gender-mainstreaming and women empowerment, but would support the current efforts to address GBV in the country.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Deputy Country Director of USAID in Nigeria, Masauso Nzima said that his agency would bring to the table, technical resources to support the work which the Ministry has been doing on GBV and HIV/AIDS with lessons learnt from other parts of the region.
Nzima emphasized that for our efforts to be successful and thorough, we must bring on board NACA, especially in view of its strategic position in the control of HIV/AIDS. “This, he states is because most of the victims run the risk of contacting the dreaded disease.”