By Justina Auta
An NGO, Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL), has called on the Federal Government to be more committed to international obligations which it is a signatory to, especially in reporting to the committee on Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Prof. Joy Ezeilo, founder, WACOL, made the call on the sideline of a refresher training for selected Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Abuja.
The training on Shadow Reporting/Treaty Monitoring and Human Rights Standards issues for Women Rights Defenders on VAW/HP and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), is supported under the UNWomen Spotlight initiative project.
Ezeilo stressed the need for the government to follow through with recommendations to enable the elimination of all forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and harmful practices against women and children in the country.
She, however, lauded the progress by the government, especially by declaring a state of emergency on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“And we have seen that the pandemic threw up a number of issues with regards to violence against women.
“That period showed that there was a spike in GBV and so women want really good national referral mechanism and healthcare facilities where they can get free medicals if they have victims or survivors of GBV.
“That is why we are asking that the government provides facilities, institutional mechanism that can support women in this.
“Of course, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) is implementing the issues of Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, but the problem is sometimes they don’t have enough resources,” she said.
The Founder also stressed the need for government to budget more for gender issues and institutional mechanisms that can support women who are majorly victims of violence.
“We are advocating that resources should go into women’s work, children, especially girl children because it costs money.
“Even violence against women has economic implications. Governments need to understand that and do more gender budgeting,” she said.
She explained that the refresher training would promote accountability to gender equality and women’s human rights, lamenting that Nigeria has many laws but implementation has remained a challenge.
She, therefore, encouraged participants to continuously demand accountability and monitor government reports in order to ensure greater accountability to gender equality in the country.
Earlier, Ms Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia, CEDAW Expert/WADHI, stressed the benefits of a Shadow report to ensuring the implementation of obligations of State parties in protecting the human rights of citizens irrespective of their gender.
She said: “There are many opportunities because governments have demonstrated the willingness of the CSOs to engage appropriately with government and work with them to enquire about reports and offer to help.
“There may be green areas that government may not be aware and help shape policies and join the global community to hold the conventions and all the rights of people high.”
Meanwhile, Dr Rosemary Chikwendu, a participant and CEO of My Take Initiative, urged countries to periodically report progress on the implementation of treaties, especially on CEDAW which demands reporting every four years.
“The CSOs have the responsibility to send in Shadow reports as an addendum to the report sent by the government to checkmate and bring it to accountability, especially in tackling issues of GBV,” she said.
CEDAW was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to eliminate discrimination against women which includes violence, poverty, lack of legal protection, denial of inheritance, property rights and access to credit.
It is monitored by a committee consisting of 23 independent experts to observe the implementation of the convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and their rights around the world. (NAN)