By Bukar Bolori
Sokoto State Governor, Dr Ahmed Aliyu has said survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the state have been given access to the care they needed to rebuild their lives.
The governor made the declaration at the weekend at the close out ceremony of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and girls in the state.
Aliyu while acknowledging the contribution of EU-UN towards the success of the state government’s intervention, said the state government has enhanced service provision for survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
He said: “We have enhanced service provision for survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and ensured that women and girls had access to the care they needed to rebuild their lives.”
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Aliyu Dikko, the Governor emphasised that: “The state has tirelessly worked to guarantee that women and girls have seamless access to the necessary care, facilitating their journey to rebuild their lives after traumatic experiences.”
He reiterated the state’s commitment to eliminating violence and harmful practices against women and girls, and emphasized the significant progress made by the Spotlight Initiative, which he described as a comprehensive program designed to ensure that every woman and girl in Sokoto State can live free from violence and harmful practices.
The governor added that: “The government has diligently worked to establish laws and policies that protect women and girls, creating an environment that enforces accountability and justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Sokoto State.”
Chief Child Protection, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Ibrahim Sesay, who represented the United Nations at the event said: “Over the past five years, in collaboration with the Sokoto State Government, the Spotlight Initiative has made notable strides in addressing the root causes of gender-based violence (GBV) and harmful practices against women and girls.”
He highlighted some key achievements of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative and included the domestication of child protection and violence against persons’ laws, establishment of a One-stop Centre for survivors of GBV, and the successful graduation of over 9,000 out-of-school women and girls from the Accelerated Second Chance Education Program.
Sesay emphasised the prevalence of harmful social norms such as child marriage and female genital mutilation in Sokoto State, while Nigeria, according to him, continued to grapple with significant numbers, including 26 million child brides and 19.9 million survivors of female genital mutilation.
“This close-out ceremony serves as a call to action for all stakeholders to commit to upholding the rights of women and children in Sokoto State. It also urges the government to allocate resources and prioritize stable financing for child protection and for the promotion of gender equality and women empowerment.
The Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Hajiya Hadiza Ahmed Shagari said that the protection of women and girls was very essential in Sokoto state and that was the reason why an organisation like Nana Kadija Centre, was established.
The Commissioner, represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Hajiya Aisha Mohammed, noted, “We have successfully and effectively worked with all partner MDAs, NGOs and CSOs who have made themselves accessible and committed to the various activities on Gender-Based Violence and child protection issues in Sokoto state”.
Chief Judge of Sokoto state, Hon. Justice Muhammad Sifawa, represented by Hajiya Mariya Haruna, expressed the appreciation of the Sokoto State Judiciary to the European Union and the United Nations for their support since the project’s inception in 2019.
He said, “The judiciary commits to persisting in its efforts to ensure swift dispensation of justice on cases about Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and related vices. This is to assure the women and girls that there is a safe space for them to reach out to anytime they need the support they require” .
The joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, aimed at eliminating violence against women and girls and harmful practices in Nigeria, has generated significant impacts since inception in 2019.
The initiative was actively implemented in five states: Adamawa, Cross-River, Ebonyi, Lagos, and Sokoto, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).