By Justina Auta
Tabitha Cumi Foundation, on Monday launched the Flashlight Action on Girls’ Safety (FLAGS) to support 750 marginalised girls in FCT, Nassarawa and Niger states.
The Foundation’s Executive Director, Tayo Erinle, said the project, funded by the UN Trust Fund, will provide access to multi-sectoral services to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
Erinle said the three-year project was relevant to this year’s International Day of the Girl-Child, with the theme, “Digital Generation-Our Generation; Digital Revolution: Not Without Girls.”
`It is a three-year project and it is particularly relevant to this year’s theme of the IDGC Digital Generation-Our Generation; Digital Revolution: Not Without Girl.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, we worked digitally with girls to reach them in their communities through literacy by radio.
“But now our digitalisation is going to be by way of getting access to justice, health and referral services for girls to support them against GBV.’’
According to her, the organisation was committed towards enhancing the dignity of marginalised girls and women and the project focus was on health, education and service delivery.
“FLAGS is a three-year project for May 2021 to May 2024 project funded by the UN Trust fund to end violence against women and girls, and is implemented by Talitha Cum Foundation to support 750 marginalised adolescent girls between the ages of 10-19 in 10 communities in FCT, Nassarawa and Niger states.
“We are working with health department, police gender desk office and FIDA in all the implementing states.
“We have a marginalisation criterion, we have chosen to select girls that are vulnerable, girls that actually need support,’’ she said.
She explained further that 525 girls in FCT, 150 in Nassarawa and 75 in Niger states will be benefitting from the project.
She said the vulnerable adolescent girls will also be provided with survival cantered interventions within safe spaces, access to friendly multi-sectoral services and survival’s wellbeing to assist them.
“Why we need to support them is because many of them are naïve and they don’t even understand the signal, they don’t understand what is happening until they are harmed.
“That is why it is very important for us to inform them and give them correct information about what GBV is so that when they see it or experience, they can identify it and respond to it and report appropriately.
“Our approach is to establish safe spaces in the community in schools. Digitally, we are establishing virtual case management hubs to enable them easy access, avoid re-traumatisation and to engage all relevant stakeholders from FIDA, Health experts, FIDA,’’ she said.
According to her, they started with advocacies in communities for support for the project, enrolment of project beneficiaries and baseline assessment.
She noted that the beneficiaries were orphans, Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs), school drop-out, househelps, and teenage mothers.
Also, Amarachi Chukwu, Assistant Programme Officer, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), said the association has been carrying out advocacies in schools and the media on the harms of GBV.
“Even the Judges know that these cases are overwhelmed, they are trying their best to make sure the cases are disposed as soon as possible.
“They no longer delay cases especially cases of girl’s molestation and rape,’’ she said.
According to her, the establishment of special courts to handle GBV cases will help expedite prosecution of cases and ensure survivors get justice, which will serve as deterrent to others.
“The more such cases are delayed, the more traumatised the survivor becomes. But as soon as the survivor gets justice, they get better, ’’she said.
Similarly, Mrs Chioma Ukachi, representing the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, stressed on the need for opportunities for the girl-child to explore her potentials like the male.
“Every girl-child has a dream just like their male counterparts and therefore should be given a conducive environment free from violence and discrimination to achieve her dream,” she said.
Ukachi, therefore, reiterated the commitment of the ministry towards implementing policies that will protect and fulfil the rights of the Nigeria girl-child and bridge the inequality gap.
Also, Mrs Fehintola Aguda, Non-governmental Association For Literacy Support Services (NOGALSS), stressed the need for more sensitisation to encourage girls break the culture of silence and to speak out against GBV.
“Most of our girls are subjected to the culture of silence. They don’t allow you to talk, girls are restricted.
“And this is what we are trying to break so that you can be liberated,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Maria Sunday, 12 years, expressed appreciation to the organisations for their supports, which she said would enable her fulfil her dreams of becoming a medical doctor.