GBV hampering Nigeria’s socio-economic growth – UN Women

UN Women representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Beatrice Eyong says Gender Based Violence has the potential of hampering Nigeria’s economic growth.

Eyong, who said this at the Roundtable on Prevention of GBV Programming in Nigeria, said it also has the capacity to impede progress towards gender equality and sustainable development.

With an estimated 738 million women globally suffering one form of gender based violence or the other, the UN Women representative called for a collective commitment from all stakeholders to address one of the most pressing challenges facing Nigeria.  

“Like many other parts of the world, GBV remains a pervasive issue that undermines the fundamental rights of women and girls, impeding progress towards gender equality and sustainable development. And some of our people think that gender based violence is a very light thing. 

“GBV with all the harm it causes to individuals has the capacity to reduce economic growth and our GDP. And at this point in Nigeria, we have to fight against GBV. 

“Globally, an estimated 738 million women almost one in three have been subjected to physical or intimate partner sexual violence or non partner sexual violence or both, at least once in their life time. Twenty three Nigerian women have experienced physical violence by the age of fifteen. 

“Data from the Mirabel centre in Lagos showed that 81% of reported cases of physical assault between 2013 and 2019 were perpetrated against children, 67 percent of the perpetrators were known.  

“In Nigeria, this staggering statistics have worsened because of the security challenges rising from armed conflicts, insurgency, banditry and kidnappings across the country. Additionally, the economic downturn rising from the recent devaluation of the local currency, high inflation and the slow recovery from the global economic shocks from COVID-19 have also increased the prevalence of GBV,” she stressed.

Working with traditional and religious institutions, the UN Women chief explained that reporting of GBV against women and girls is now gaining traction.

“I want to say that it’s also the work that we’ve done in terms of creating awareness, in terms of facilitating women’s reporting. At first, women were silent, people will not even know that women were faced with GBV, women were faced with rapes. And now because of the work that has been done, women feel a little bit free to come and report.  

“Yet amidst these challenges there is hope, hope in the transformative power of collaboration, innovation and solidarity. 

“This roundtable provides a platform to share best practices, and lessons learnt from the joint EU/UN spotlight initiative and other successful interventions in Nigeria and globally fostering cross learning and innovation. 

“Today’s discussion provides us with invaluable learning and opportunity to harness this collective energy and expertise to explore diverse approaches to GBV prevention that are grounded in the unique socio-cultural context of Nigeria,” she said.

In her good will remarks, the Minister of Women Affairs Barrister Uju Kennedy Ohaneye, while highlighting efforts of the government to address issues of GBV, added that in spite of these efforts ‘these despicable acts still persist’.

She said, “As we all know, Violence Against Women remains one of the most serious threats to the health and safety of many women and girls worldwide. It’s devastating consequences are felt at social, economic and personal levels because of the grievous harm inflicted on the victims in spite of Nigeria government commitment to various national, regional and international resolutions and frameworks, the implementation of existing laws and practices on GBV in Nigeria, such as the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015 and the Child Rights Act, 2003.”

The minister called for greater investments by stakeholders in tackling GBV to help women attain their potential in order to contribute to national growth and development.

“…Our women deserve equal rights and justice. Discrimination anchored on gender or culture should no longer be practiced in any form. I therefore, like to seize this opportunity to call for greater investments for the attainment of women’s potentials and their contribution to national growth and development. A coordinated action by different actors, within and outside formal mechanisms, is continuously required to address the question of violence against women and girls in our society,” she said.