The Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donli, has decried the rate of out-of-school girls in the country.
The DG disclosed this on Monday, in Abuja at the opening session of a five-day training workshop on “Building Capacity for Preventing and Responding to Gender Based Violence in Africa.”
She said that 87 per cent of girls in developing countries enroll into primary schools, but only 39 per cent of them could go beyond that level.
The workshop was organised by Women Peace and Security Institute, an arm of the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Ghana, in collaboration with NAPTIP.
Okah-Donli added that girls’ attendance in formal schools during adolescent age had resulted in greater gender equality, marriage at a right age, reduction in domestic violence and lower rate of HIV/AIDS.
“As part of national response to gender based violence, the Federal Government of Nigeria articulated and published the National Gender Policy in 2008.
“This is to rid the nation of all forms of gender discrimination, promote equal access to political, social and economic wealth creation opportunities.
“The policy aims to achieve a culture that places premium on child protection in public and private sectors on issues of participation of women and children in the process of national development and empowerment.
“Nigeria government has continued to demonstrate commitment to eliminate all forms of Gender discrimination, through the programmes of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, NAPTIP and other relevant ministries,’’ she stressed.
The Deputy Commandant, KAIPTC, Air Commodore George-Arko Dadzie, said that the workshop was targeted at preventing and responding to GBV in Africa.
“It has been observed that lack of local actors’ capacity to effectively prevent and respond to GBV and low prosecution rates, has contributed to the high rate of GBV incidences in some of the member states.
“It is important to also note that, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic further exposed women and girls to GBV to exacerbate their vulnerability as victim/survivors of GBV.
“There is therefore the need to develop innovative approaches to eliminate gender-based violence being perpetrated mostly against women and girls in both conflict and peace theatres,’’ Dadzie said.
The Minister of Women Affair, Pauline Tallen, noted that the incidence of GBV had escalated dramatically in the recent time in Nigeria, particularly in this period of COVID-19 pandemic.
Tallen said with the trend in GBV, humanitarian protection and assistance had grown exponentially with commendable efforts from both government and international actors.
Represented by Funke Oladipo, the Deputy Director, Women and Gender in the ministry, Tallen said that Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) was not just a human rights issue and a moral imperative.
She said failure to tackle it could lead to substantial social and economic losses estimated to be at two to eight per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
She, however, said that the ministry had done a lot to help tackle the VAWG, noting that the workshop was timely.
Also speaking, the Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs, ECOWAS Commission, Dr Sintiki Ugbe, noted that in West Africa like other parts of the world, GBV had been a human right concern.
“As you will recall, the President of ECOWAS Commission issued a statement titled: ECOWAS calls for urgent action to address sexual and gender violence, protect the rights of women and girls on June 22.
“This was necessitated in the face of unprecedented reports of rape and defilement and deaths, especially of women and girls in the ECOWAS region as noticeable fall out of measures imposed by governments to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ugbe, however, appreciated the commitment of KAIPTC and NAPTIP, adding that ECOWAS Commission and member state have all taken the lead in the fight against GBV/ VAC.