Empowering women economically’ll address SGBV-Oxfam
Participants at a community-based assembly of rural women in Abuja.
By Justina Auta
Oxfam Nigeria, an International NGO, says empowering women financially and economically will make them independent.
The organisation said it would also make them self-reliant which was critical to their life, as it would end Sexual, Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.
Ms Helen Akinyemi, Oxfam’s Programme Manager on Gender Justice, said this during a community-based assembly of rural women in Abuja, in partnership with Nigeria Women Economic Development (NigWED) project to address SGBV.
Akinyemi said that poor economic status and financial dependence of women had further exposed them to violence and rendered them more vulnerable to abuse.
“Most of the issues discussed, you will realise that most of the contributory factors of GBV lie in the economic development of women.
“We want them to know what to engage in that will generate income and help them to participate actively in the productive sector.
“All these will help to resolve gender issues, because when you solve one, you are solving the other. They are interconnected,’’ she said.
According to her, Oxfam has carried out several sensitisation and advocacy exercise to end all forms of violence against women, children, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and other vulnerable groups.
“ The feedback has been so encouraging that is why we are here again and we were asked to bring it down to the women in rural community level.
“ Because these are the people that are most affected and they don’t have the necessary information, sensitisation and their consciousness are not being raised.
“It is something that they too can go back to their communities, as most of the attendees here are women leaders, and have group of women that they work with.
“So, they will take it back to these groups as well as the communities and households to sensitise them and achieve the change that we are looking for in ending GBV,’’ she said.
According to her, the attendees were also educated on where, when and how to seek help when faced with violence or witness any.
She said: “There are safe houses in Nigeria, but most of these women don’t know. So this is part of the reasons we are here to pass the information across.’’
Mr Lugard Okonobo, Director-General, NigWED project, said the meeting was to sensistise women on how to be financially independent, sustain their businesses and how to make it thrive amidst economic violence.
“Our organisation focuses to addressing economic violence.”
He, however, expressed sadness with issues like double taxation for women.
“For some of them, their goods are seized at the markets place.
“Some don’t know how to check their taxes, some are married and their husbands are capitalizing on their ingenuity and education level to suppress them by taking over their economy.
“For those who are subjected to SGBV, we try to provide some economic empowerment programmes to sustain them,’’ he said.
He said NigWED, with the support of other partners, had empowered over 500 women with technical support, capacity building, infrastructure, amongst others, to support their business.
Responding to issues raised by some of the SGBV survivors, the DG urged the women to utilise the opportunity to be financially independent and generate sustainable business for themselves.
“Some are facing abuse, we have to sit down to look critically and find out the causes because for every effect and reaction, there is a cause.
“These things are subject to communication, discussion, dialogue. And with understanding, there will be a solution,’’ he said.
Mrs Blessing Airujuwan, a survivor, said the meeting with other persons and sharing her experience had helped in addressing depression caused by violence and neglect in her marriage.
Airujuwan, therefore, encouraged other women facing any form of abuse and violence to immediately seek help to enable them survive and regain their sanity.
Similarly, a widow and mother of two, Mrs Rebecca Amana, stressed the need for women to be financially independent to reduce some of the factors that exposes them to GBV.
Amana commended the organisers for their support and for providing a platform for the women to share their stories, seek help and get supports to reduce the burden they carry.