The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Thursday urged everyone to take a common stand against sexual and gender-based violence by advocating for the review of our laws to provide stiffer punishments for offenders given the serious threat the evil act poses to safety and security of women and the girl-child.
Ambode, who spoke through the Secretary to the State Government, Tunji Bello, at the 18th Regular National Council Meeting on Women Affairs and Social Development held at the Academy Inn, Agidingbi, Ikeja, added that it constitutes a social menace that must be kicked out of the nation’s social system in order to protect and preserve the dignity of womanhood.
He posited that to achieve social inclusion and integration for socio-economic development, everyone must identify and address decisively issues of gender inequality, girl child education, domestic violence and sexual abuse that have limited the capacity of women to achieve their full potentials and contribute their quota to the development of the economy.
“In Lagos State, the issue of sexual abuse and gender- based violence is being addressed relentlessly through the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team,” he explained.
He added that the State Government is committed to ensuring the growth and development of the economy in every facet, which explains why it has continued to invest significantly on safety and security as no economy can thrive in an atmosphere of fear, chaos and general insecurity.
He said the theme for this 18th Regular National Council Meeting: “Peace, Security and Social Inclusion; Key Building Blocks for Achieving Economic Growth and Sustainable Development,” is not only apt but also touches directly the critical issues that determine the level of prosperity that can be attained by any society.
He stressed that the choice of the theme is instructive and reveals the untold hardship usually suffered by women and children in a state of insecurity, as well as the need to increase the involvement of women in the social, political and economic activities of the society.
The Governor stated that the State remains committed to a system of governance which does not discriminate on the basis of gender, ethnicity and physical disability and has ensured through various platforms, that all citizens without bias to gender have the opportunity to express their opinions on issues especially those that directly affect them.
He explained that the Government believes in empowering the informal sector, within which women constitute the majority, so as to facilitate the process of socio-economic inclusion, adding that the mandate of Lagos State Employment Trust Fund is to identify genuine and credible entrepreneurs and financially empower them to grow their businesses and establish new ones.
Earlier in her remarks, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan, had commended the Lagos State Government for playing the lead role in domesticating the Children Rights Act and for its implementation.
Alhassan added that the efforts made by Lagos State Government in eradicating gender based violence and continuous empowerment initiatives for women are truly appreciated.
Also in her address, the Commissioner for Women affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Lola Akande, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Abiola Liadi, stated that the State Government in various ways has practicalised how social inclusion is not negotiable in the bid for any society to achieve sustainable development across board.