The Empowering Women for Excellence Initiative (EWEI) says it has empowered 80 women on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) response and mitigation in Kaduna communities under Our Safe Spaces (OSS) project.
The project, which began in 2019 in partnership with the United Nations Trust Fund (UNTF), indirectly reached 3.7 million community, religious leaders, security personnel and government officials with key messages against GBV.
Mr Uche Egbe, EWEI’s OSS Project Primary Focal Person, stated this during the project Dissemination Event in Kaduna on Friday.
Egbe explained that the project directly engaged 80 women, 40 from each of the project communities of Ungwan Dosa and Ungwan Romi, while indirectly benefiting over 3.7 million across the state.
“Early 2019, our team conducted a field survey on the forms of GBV in Ungwan Dosa, Kaduna North Local Government Area of the state and Ungwan Romi communities of Chikun LGA.
“The survey showed that the communities have little or no knowledge about the forms of GBV, where to report or who to report to, what to do and how it can be prevented.
“Responding, to this knowledge and skill gap, EWEI in partnership with the United Nations Trust Fund (UNTF), began implementing the OSS project in December 2019.”
He said that the project was designed to support women and girl survivors of GBV, physical violence, internally displaced women in minority groups, economic violence, and sexual exploitation.
Presenting the three-year project report, Mr Mendie Jeremiah, EWEI Gender Officer, said that it had so far promoted beneficiaries’ access to psychosocial support systems and economic empowerment opportunities.
This, according to him, facilitated the normalisation of their lives, and improved community support to address violence against women and girls, using participatory and community-based approaches.
“Through Our Safe Spaces Project, displaced women and girls, indigenous women, and survivors of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation are now better protected from violence and exploitation.
“They are also supported to gain access to psychosocial support systems, develop reduced vulnerability and benefit from economic empowerment opportunities through establishment of cooperative societies.”
Jeremiah said that the over 3.7 million beneficiaries included 80 direct beneficiaries, 2,400 secondary beneficiaries, 3,000 community-based groups, 1,080 government officials and 3.7 million people reached through digital and traditional media.
The Secondary Focal Person of the project, Ms Bilkisu Gwabin, stressed the need for community leaders and influencers to provide the necessary support to sustain the functionality of the Safe Space Centres.
Gwabin added that the established cooperatives for the women should equally be expanded to accommodate more women in various communities.
Mrs Bukola Ajoa, a legal practitioner, said that sensitisation and public enlightenment on GBV were very crucial to winning the war against the trend.
Ajoa said that having the knowledge about what GBV is, how to prevent and how to report and where would go a long way in addressing sexual violence and GBV cases in communities.
Earlier, one of the beneficiaries, Rahamat Isah, Unguwan Dosa community, said that the project supported women in her community to open cooperative societies that empowered women financially.
Isah added that the OSS equally empowered women and mobilise community members to support the fight against GBV and how to report violation cases to appropriate authority for justice.
She noted that GBV cases were often covered by family members, stressing that the OSS cooperative office, and toll-free line provided an option to report such cases.
Another beneficiary, Keturah Yusuf, 26, from the Unguwan Romi community, said that the project had impacted on her life significantly by building her financial independence and confidence to fight for her rights.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other highlights of the event include the unveiling of the OSS three-year report and a documentary of the successes and milestones of the project. (NAN)