A NON-GOVERNMENTAL Organisation, Stand With A Girl (SWAG) Initiative has sensitised Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at Wassa Camp in Abuja on Gender-Based Violence.
The event took place on Wednesday, November 23, at the Wassa IDP Camp.
The WeLead program, funded by Hivos, is aimed at making sure that women are able to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.
SWAG initiative carried out a three-fold intervention which offered family planning commodities, menstrual cups and micro-grants to the women in the IDP camp.
The Program Coordinator of SWAG, Mercy Bolaji, said to commemorate the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Campaign starting November 25, the WeLead program is aimed at creating awareness around Gender-Based Violence and family planning for women.
“We are here to sensitise the community on the harmful gender practices that they do, particularly on sexual and gender-based violence and also family planning.
“So, we are here to dialogue with the community members because we know that its important for the community to take ownership if they are going to support women and if they are going to make sure that women do not experience violence, especially from their partners or people in the community,” she said.
Bolaji further explained that the conversation was centered around myths and misconceptions that people have about gender-based violence and family planning, with a focus on child spacing.
The program coordinator further said change doesn’t happen immediately but SWAG believes constant messages influence people over time, particularly when they are doing something wrong.
The United Nations data on Gender-Based Violence reveals that 7,349 incidents were reported from January 2020 – July 2022, with 72.3 per cent being sexual and physical violence.
During the event, Women Leader Wassa IDP Camp Hafsat Hamman said SWAG has enlightened the IDPs about gender-based violence by training a few women as advocates, and also opening helplines where victims can call and report abuses.
“We really appreciate SWAG for their efforts, especially for the 3000 women in the camp. They have enlightened us on gender-based violence and how we can report cases to them,” she said.
Hamman further revealed that the family planning talks have educated them on how they can take care of themselves and plan their lives.
Head of Advocacy Communication and Social Mobilization of FCT’s Primary Health Care Board, Hajiya Nana Hauwa Yusuf commended the sensitization program saying that the board is pleased that an NGO is complementing government’s efforts.
“We have a clinic here and we are happy that an NGO could identify this community and help us with some services.
“So, the sensitization is on access and utilization of family planning tools, sexual and human violence,” she said.
Yusuf also explained that abuse and violence hinder progress, noting that it is important for the girl child to be well trained from a young age and to be educated about their bodies.
A report by Humangle noted that in the first four months of 2022 about 335 persons have experienced different forms of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) across Nigeria.
An Assistant Director in the IDP Department of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Ijeoma Uduak, said the initiative is a way of creating awareness among the people and training the trainers.
“What we did today is like train the trainers. These people we have talked to today would take it to their various communities to also enlighten others that are not here.
“So it is a good awareness that we have created today, to inform them, telling them it is good to space their children,” she said.
Uduak added that men shouldn’t beat their wives. She warned that they should not molest the girl child because it is a crime and perpetrators get punished.
The Chairman of IDP Camp Wassa Geoffrey Bitrus appreciated SWAG Initiative. According to him, husbands and wives always have issues but from the teachings received, they have learnt some things they didn’t know.
He added that the camp leaders would spread the word to others that were not in attendance.
Annually, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence kicks off on November 25 and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
The theme for this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women campaign is ‘UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls’.