ICIR engages experts on advocacy against gender-based violence

THE International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) on Thursday, December 1, held a virtual webinar in commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Participants at the webinar include gender, legal and media experts who proffered solutions to issues relating to violence against girls and women.

The webinar themed ‘Strengthening Media Advocacy As A Tool To End GBV’ was aimed at exploring the significant impact of the media as a viable means of reporting GBV stories in Nigeria.

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The 16 Days of Activism is an annual international campaign organised by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (WGL) after it was launched at the inauguration of the WGL Institute in 1991.

The campaign commences on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until December 10, Human Rights Day.

Giving the opening remarks, the Editor of The ICIR, Bamas Victoria, noted that the webinar was one of the series of activism the organisation was engaging in to advocate against GBV.

“Over time, The ICIR has been at the forefront of reporting issues, what to do and how the media can help in carrying out the campaign,” she said.

Speaking on the possible entry points to addressing social norms that promote GBV, a gender expert, Oluwatunmininu Elizabeth Adedeji, stressed the need to start from the family which she described as the first unit of contact in society.

“Social norms is the general belief of a particular set of people around a particular issue. It has its roots in our culture, power relations, religious practices, understanding and societal attribution of gender roles to both women and men.

“To address the social norms that are promoting gender-based violence in our community, we need to start thinking about where it starts from and how we got into some of the things that have become normal for us in the society,” she said.

Adedeji added, “When we talk about gender roles, who brought the gender roles? Who are the initiators of these gender roles that make the men to be seen in a manner and the women to be seen in another manner?

“In addressing them, we’ll start from the community where the norms start from. We will look at the first unit of contact.

“We need to start from our family to address gender issues from the family.”

Adedeji further called on parents to mentor their children on what roles are and how they can do away with them.

According to her, “Gender roles does not really help anybody or society as far as it is not biological roles like pregnancy.”

She explained that gender-based violence comes from gender roles, adding that “everything about gender based violence is majorly about power relations”.

“Everybody wants to show that I am powerful. In this part of the world, much power is being given to the men above the women.

“Power should not be the focus. The focus should be seeing everybody as human and be treated as such.”

Adedeji also noted that traditional practices like female genital mutilation promote dehumanization of women.

She stated that the Nigerian law does not acknowledge rape in marriage.

“According to the Marriage Act, it is believed that once you sign the marriage document in the court that you have given your consent for sex,” she noted.

A parliamentary correspondent and producer with Arise News TV, Georgina Ndukwe Ezeanyika, who said the media has been trying in creating awareness against GBV, called for more efforts from the grassroots including religious houses.

“We need to be able to stand up and speak up against gender based violence. We need to start from the roots.”

She called on lawmakers in State Houses of Assembly to domesticate the Child Rights Act, Women Empowerment Act as well as the Gender-based Violence Act.

She also urged the Ministry of Women Affairs to respond to the GBV issues at the grassroots level.

Speaking on how the judiciary and the legislature can work together to bring an end to GBV, a human rights lawyer, Toiyo Abasi Ekong, said both arms of government should have it as part of their programs to educate the people.

“It should be part of their programs to educate these people because just trying to pass a law, especially in the North, that has something to do with violence against women, something that they perceive as gender inequality, is very difficult. It’s not a walk in the park,” Ekong said.



    She stressed the need for the legislature and judiciary to make people understand the laws and their importance for them to comply and make the implementation process feasible.

    Adedeji highlighted two models – multi-sectoral and multi-level – through which GBV can be eradicated in society.

    The multi-sectoral model, she said, includes action plans across all sectors of the economy against GBV.

    The multi-level model involves efforts by all levels of society to bring an end to gender-based violence.

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