United Nations Resident Coordinator Matthias Schmale has stressed the need to strengthen prevention efforts to curb gender-based violence.
“The two elements for prevention are to strengthen justice response as a strong deterrent and education of girls,” he stated during a high-level UN-EU/Government Spotlight Initiative’s joint mission to Sokoto.
He noted the GBV emergency, like other national crises, requires a response in an agile and fast manner.
Schmale, Co-Chair of the UN-EU/Government Spotlight Initiative, commended the Sultan of Sokoto for his “wise and impactful leadership.”
“You stand out for the leadership you demonstrate in supporting girls’ education and promoting the Child Rights Act,” he stated.
He also lauded the efforts of the Sokoto State government and all other stakeholders towards the fight against gender-based violence.
“Visits like this can make a difference in terms of reminding us of what all of this is about and seeing how our collective investment positively impacts lives,” he stated.
“I pledge to you that beyond the life of the Spotlight Initiative, we are supporting in partnership with the EU; the UN will do everything possible to help end violence against women, girls, and boys.”
Chairman UN-EU/Government Spotlight Initiative and Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, identified the empowerment of women as crucial to the achievement of growth and development goals of the National Development Plan (2021-2025), Nigeria agenda 2050, and AU Agenda 2063
He expressed the federal government’s commitment to the GBV fight, noting its supporting two more forensic labs alongside the one in Adamawa state to contribute to proving rape cases in court so that they get speedy dispensation.
The Minister also disclosed the issuance of a circular to key MDAs to provide a budget line for GBV issues in the 2023 budget.
Minister of Women Affairs Dame Pauline Tallen noted the spotlight initiative had increased awareness of the GBV, upscale service providers and touched the lives of women and girls in Nigeria.
She described the rate of physical, psychological and emotional violence against women, girls, and boys as very disheartening, with high incidences in the cities.
In a remark during the delegation’s visit to the palace, Sultan of Sokoto Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar said the sultanate had been at the forefront in advocating for girls’ education and supported the passage of the Child Protection Law (CPL) and Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP).
‘It’s been a long journey, but we have started, and we will not stop until violence, women and girls, ends’, the royal father stated.
“This will be through strengthening the engagement between traditional and religious leaders to leaders in their communities and the implementation of laws.”
European Union (EU) Head of Governance, Peace and Migration, Ruben Alba Aguilera, noted with the intervention, Sokoto had recorded huge improvement and became a leader in the North, with other states taking after its lead.
Aguilera pointed out: “Spotlight Initiative demonstrates that we need to invest in a comprehensive response to GBV as the only way to ensure transformative results for women and children who are victims or at risk of GBV,” he stated.
He disclosed EU would mobilize additional funds to continue to support a new phase of the EU Spotlight Initiative next year. This, he added, would include a new intervention to strengthen access to basic quality education in rural areas and Youth Empowerment in Northern Nigeria.
The visit also saw the coordination meeting with key State Ministries -Women Affairs, Justice, Budget and Economic Planning-and community members.
A key highlight of the event included the launch of the gazette copies of the VAPP Act and CPL and referral pathway and directory of all services across the six local government areas in Sokoto State.