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UN Women Asks for Prioritization of Funding for War Against SGBV

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UN Women Asks for Prioritization of Funding for War Against SGBV

By: Michael Mike

United Nations Women has called for prioritization of investment by all stakeholders in financing development plans towards ending violence against women and girls, even as it pleaded for strategic policy development aimed at putting a stop to the scourge.

The call was made at the weekend by the UN Women Deputy Country Represntative to Nigeria. Mr. Lansana Wonneh at a Joint Symposium on Prevention of Violence Against Special Need Groups in Nigeria; with the theme: “Tackling Multi-forms of Vulnerability and Violence through Improved Policies, Programmatic and Funding Mechanisms”.

Wonneh, who was represented by the National Programme Officer UN Women, Mrs. Patience Ekeoba, said that despite many countries passing laws to combat violence against women, weak enforcement and discriminatory social norms remain a significant problems.

He said: “Being able to stop violence from occurring in the first place is critical to achieving the goal of ending violence against women and girls (VAWG) because if violence does not occur all the other GBV responses will not be necessary. VAWG is preventable; we need to continue to invest in transforming social norms, addressing unequal gender power relations, strengthening essential services for survivors, and enabling safer environments. I call for more attention to gender responsive budgeting, ensuring that budget circulars have definite allocations to gender equality and women empowerment including budget for addressing violence against women and girls.”

Wonneh explained that women with special needs and other groups experience violence differently because of their vulnerability and special needs, hence the need for stakeholders engagements to mobilize support and raise awareness to end the menace.

He added that: “The symposium provides opportunity for ASWHAN and the other special need groups to share their experiences of violences, their survivor stories and make demand for increased prevention interventions and response. It will also allow all relevant government agencies, the UN System, development partners, civil society gather here today to listen, discuss and advance prevention strategies and funding mechanism to enhance prevention and mitigation services and actions for the targets groups. So I call on you to participate actively so that at the end of today’s interactions we will all come up with practical strategies towards reducing and eliminating violence that affect this critical groups in our society.”

Also speaking, the Acting Director, Policy Planning and Coordination, Nation Agency for the Control Aids (NACA), Dr. Yinka Anoemuah, noted that the agency will continue to work with partners to achieve the desired goal of ending all forms of violence.

“We have so many vulnerable population that experience vulnerabilities and that is why we will continue to partner with the UN system and partners to find ways to bring an end to all the challenges that people are facing in the communities. We recognize very much the relationships between Gender Based Violence (GBV) and HIV, and that is why to the key area of strategic engagement that we have over the years, because if we want to control the virus, and end the epidemy by 2030, we need to bring to a stop all forms of violence, be it emotional, psychological, physical, then we have to work together to make that happen. Without resources, without people, without investment we will not be able to do it, but with collaborations and partnerships we will achieve a lot”. She noted

On behalf of people with disabilities, the President Women With Disabilities, Lois Auta, called for an increase in budget allocation on disabilities issues.
“Women with disabilities are much more vulnerable to issues of GBV, these violence could be in different forms such as issues of economic empowerment, issues of health, issues of institutional barriers and infrastructural Barriers. We have legal frameworks and these frame works are not implemented. The big issues is lack of funding, with need to come together and collaborate and activate the goal 17 of SDG, by working together. We need to insert a budget plan in all the MDAs for issues of women and girls with disabilities.
She said: “We need to talk to National Assembly to increase the budgets allocation on issues of disability as well as increase awareness on GBV in the rural areas.”

According to the Head Health Desk, Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs Marian Shuaibu, the ministry takes priority in the wellbeing of all women. Noting that approval to establish a mobile court to deal with the perpetrators of GBV has been gotten, as well as development of a policy on mental health.

This year theme, “UNiTE!; Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women & Girls” is apt as it focusses on investment and financing of strategies and programmes that will help prevent violence from happening in the first place against women and girls.

The symposium was put together by UN Women, NACA, UNAIDS, Association of Women with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, (ASWHAN) and the Ministry of Women Affairs.

UN Women Asks for Prioritization of Funding for War Against SGBV

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VP Shettima Receives New Board of Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission

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VP Shettima Receives New Board of Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission

  • Charges members on steadfastness, devotion to duty

By: Our Reporter

Vice President Kashim Shettima has asked the newly appointed Board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC) to demonstrate unwavering devotion to duty.

Addressing the delegation who came on a courtesy visit in the Presidential Villa, VP Shettima reminded the board members of the importance of religious commitment in addressing the challenges facing the nation.

The Vice President also acknowledged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s positive impact on the nation, attributing the President’s success to divine blessings and purity of his heart.

He stated: “The road that led us to the Tinubu Presidency did not happen by chance. This is a man whose trajectory is characterized by making sacrifices for the good of the nation.”

Highlighting Tinubu’s role as a sanctuary for victims of political persecution, VP Shettima said the need for leaders to invest in building bridges can never be wished away, noting President Tinubu’s contributions in providing an alternative platform for the Nigerian political system.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu made sacrifices and built bridges. He was a veritable sanctuary for victims of political witch hunts. When other governors were struggling to have a seat at the dining table with Obasanjo way back then, he provided an alternative platform for the Nigerian political system,” the Vice President said.

Addressing the appointed board members, Shettima said, “All of you here were picked because of your religious devotion. We cannot condone what is taking place in the system. We must all strive to make a positive impact to attain the Nigeria of our dreams.”

Earlier, the Executive Secretary of NCPC, Bishop Stephen Adegbite, expressed gratitude to President Tinubu for the opportunity to serve on the board.

He also commended the Vice President’s exceptional leadership, recounting instances of support for the church and efforts to foster peace and harmony in Borno State.

“Your antecedent and what we have known about you are immense. When we came to Maiduguri, Borno State, I was the Director of National Issues and Social Welfare at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). The then CAN chairman in Borno State said to us that they have an exceptional governor, who supported Christians and rebuilt churches destroyed by Boko Haram,” he said.

He added that Vice President Shettima stood with the Church and ensured that there was peace and harmony in the church in Nigeria and with people of other faiths.

Bishop Adegbite also noted that the commission’s role goes beyond pilgrimage as it extends to the duty of ensuring a harmonious environment for the nation.

“For us as a commission, our assignment is beyond pilgrimage. It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that we have a harmonious environment for our nation, to build bridges and ensure that there is peace and harmony in Nigeria,” he stated.

VP Shettima Receives New Board of Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission

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EU, IIDEA engage commissioners of women affairs on gender equality, rights

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EU, IIDEA engage commissioners of women affairs on gender equality, rights

By: Michael Mike

In a bid to advance gender equality and rights in Nigeria, the European Union (EU), in partnership with the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IIDEA) and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, has launched a collaborative initiative by organising a two-day conference tailored for state Commissoners of Women Affairs and their Permanent Secretaries.

Laolu Olawumi, the European Union’s Programme Manager on Democracy, Rule of Law and Gender highlighted that the event aims to provide Commissioners of Women Affairs and their Permanent Secretaries with the technical support needed to address and tackle issues affecting women, children, and other vulnerable groups nationwide. Set against the backdrop of International Women’s Day 2024, the conference marks a significant step towards achieving this year’s theme, “Inspire Inclusion.”

Olawumi elaborated that the conference’s structure is designed to furnish Commissioners with the tools required to effectively confront and resolve rights issues. Moreover, the event serves as a knowledge-sharing forum beyond its primary role of offering technical assistance.

Olawumi added that the EU’s support includes ensuring that planning, budgeting, and implementation processes are inclusive. This strategy promotes the full participation of women, children, and persons with disabilities, integrating inclusivity into governance and societal development.

Under the leadership of the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, the conference fostered a meaningful exchange of insights and strategies among state Women’s Affairs Commissioners, bolstering their ability to advocate for gender equality within their jurisdictions.

The event is part of the recently inaugurated second phase of the European Union’s Support to the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC II) programme implemented by IIDEA and based on the achievements of its preceding phase. At the programme launch, EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Samuela Isopi, stated the necessity of a second RoLAC phase to sustain the momentum and continue the EU’s efforts in supporting the Nigerian governments objective of
Of strengthening the rule of law in Nigeria. “It was clear to the European Union that a second phase of the RoLAC was essential to consolidate the progress and continue the commendable work done on enhancing the rule of law in Nigeria,” Ambassador Samuela Isopi remarked during the launch.

Speaking at the conference, the Imo State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Lady Nkechinyere Ugwu, expressed the significance of the conference, stating, “This conference, courtesy of the EU, is very important to us, as it gives us an opportunity to come together, share experiences, and develop practicable solutions for our work, which focuses on human rights and the protection of vulnerable populations.”

Adding to the discourse, the Commissioner of Women Affairs for Abia State, Mrs. Ngozi Blessing Felix, shared her thoughts: “This gathering is a cornerstone for us in Abia State to forge stronger collaborations and innovate on policies that directly impact the lives of women and children. It is an invaluable platform for learning and exchanging ideas that can be transformed into actionable strategies for gender equality and the empowerment of the most vulnerable in our society.”

Through the conference, the EU aims to empower state ministries of women affairs to develop and implement comprehensive strategies that support their mission and mandate. Additionally, the initiative seeks to build the capacity of state Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries for Women Affairs, enabling them to act as visible and effective advocates for policy, advocacy, and action on rights-based issues concerning women, children, and persons with disabilities.

EU, IIDEA engage commissioners of women affairs on gender equality, rights

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To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights – Leopold Zekeng

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To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights – Leopold Zekeng

By: Michael Mike

The enactment of Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act – a national law hinged on the protection of the rights of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS from discrimination based on their HIV status, is indeed progressive. However, to date, only about 18 states in Nigeria have domesticated the Act.
Evidence from the Nigeria PLHIV Stigma Index Survey revealed that 24.5% of adults aged 35-44 and 21.7% of young adults aged 18-24 have experienced stigma and discrimination. In some instances, key populations in Nigeria have experienced discrimination, violent law enforcement practices, arrests and other forms of human rights violations. Violence and discrimination against women and girls also remain pervasive. These violations often shove persons living with HIV and key populations to the margins of society, denying them access to life-saving health and social services, including HIV services.
Globally, 38 countries have pledged to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination through the Global Partnership for Action to Eliminate all Forms of HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination (Global Partnership). These are hard-fought gains. Nonetheless, Nigeria is yet to formally join the Global Partnership.
However, the unwavering commitments and investments by stakeholders including the Nigerian government, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), UNAIDS, Global Fund, United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other partners, have been instrumental in catalyzing progress towards ending stigma and discrimination in Nigeria. Communities of persons living with HIV have also been at the frontline of combatting stigma and discrimination. Recently, the Community of Practice to address HIV-related stigma and discrimination in Nigeria was launched by the Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria (ASWHAN) & Association of Young People living with HIV in Nigeria (APYIN). The platform seeks to facilitate capacity strengthening, exchange of best practices and promote synergy amongst stakeholders in addressing stigma and discrimination in health care, education, workplace, justice systems, communities, emergency and humanitarian settings.
When marginalized communities are criminalized or stigmatized, their vulnerability to HIV infection increases, and their access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services is obstructed. Countries that are beating the AIDS epidemic are doing so by repealing laws and policies that discriminate, by expanding human rights for all and by allowing marginalized communities to lead the response.
Public health is undermined when laws, policies, practices or norms enshrine punishment, discrimination or stigma for people because they are women, key populations, or persons living with HIV. Discrimination obstructs HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care, and holds back progress towards the end of AIDS.
We have hope, however, from communities on the frontlines. As Dr. Martin Luther King noted, “Social progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of people.” It is the communities most affected by discrimination that are leading the pushback against the erosion of their right to health, against the right to life. They are uniting their efforts to protect and advance human rights. They need, and deserve, all our support. The rights path strengthens entire societies, making them better equipped to deal with the challenges we face today and those that are emerging.
The right to non-discrimination as guaranteed under Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights treaties and standards, is the cornerstone of international human rights law. Having ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other relevant treaties, the Nigerian government has an obligation to ensure that national laws and policies do not discriminate against people and that all persons including persons living with HIV are protected against such discrimination by third parties.
Furthermore, the Global Aids Strategy requires that all countries including Nigeria create an enabling legal environment by removing punitive laws, introducing and enforcing protective legislations and policies, and eradicating the abuse of criminal and general laws to target people living with HIV and key populations.
Discrimination against anyone is harmful to the health of everyone. For Nigeria to deliver on the promise to end AIDS by 2030, action is urgently needed to advance the protection of the human rights of everyone, everywhere. The Zero Discrimination Day, celebrated around the world every 1 March, presents an opportunity for Nigeria to strengthen its commitment through ensuring the domestication and effective implementation of the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act in all states across Nigeria, formally joining the Global Partnership, committing to take actions on HIV-related stigma and discrimination across all six settings; and letting communities lead in addressing stigma and discrimination.
Dr Leopold Zekeng, UNAIDS Nigeria Country Director, writes from Abuja.

To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights – Leopold Zekeng

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