By Hassan Zaggi
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) has called on the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC), to support the institutionalization and domestication of Gender Based Violence (GBV) protocol/manual in high institutions and make it available to other universities within and outside the country.
The Regional Advisor for higher education and ICT, UNESCO Regional office in Abuja, Salifou Abdoulaye, made the call during the formal launch of manual on eliminating Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and harmful practices- enhancing sexual and reproductive health rights, in Abuja.
The manual was launched in partnership with the International Society for Media in Public Health (ISMPH) under the Spotlight Initiative.
The Spotlight project, according to Mr. Abdoulaye, is a global initiative funded by the European Union with technical support by the United Nations working with international and national civil society organisations and the government of implementing countries.
He noted that the objective of the Spotlight Initiative in Nigeria is to have a country where all women and girls live a life free from all forms of violence and harmful practices.
According to him: “It is on record that Nigeria ranks 118 out of 134 countries on the Gender Equality Index. The inadequate inclusion of women and girls’ perspective in policy making decisions, resources allocation and implementation in economic and social sectors continues to challenge the advancement of gender equality.
“Over 70 per cent of women live below the poverty line, with maternal mortality ratio at 576/100,000. Of the estimated 3.2 million Nigerians living with HIV, 55 per cent are women.
“Enrolment of girls in school ranges from one third to one quarter of classroom participants and out of the 10.5 million out of school children, two-thirds are girls.”
While saying that the manual has come at the right time, he, however, lamented that GBV has drawn the attention of education policy makers, especially, the worrisome issues of sexual harassment and sex for mark syndrome.
“UNESCO proposes for the production of this manual in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) format. By doing so, we will be able to disseminate the document widely within and across national frontiers and also taking into account our long standing partnership with National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), it would be good to involve NOUN in the production of the MOOCs, because this higher education institution has all the necessary facilities and the expertise to design MOOCs and online courses,” Abdoulaye noted.
Speaking, the Executive Director of ISMPH, Moji Makanjuola, regretted that the issue of violence against women and girls have continue to increase despite the passage of the VAPP Act in 2015 and its domestication in 18 states of the country.
She, therefore, charged the governments at all levels and the civil society organisations to rise to the occasion and create innovative responses which seek to change the mindset that made violence against women so prevalent in Nigeria.
While applauding UNESCO for the partnership, she said that: “Over the years, ISMPH has engaged in the creation of innovative solutions to the problems of sexual and gender based violence.
“We strongly believe that this manual will be a potent tool in re-orientating Nigeria’s young and go a long way in the struggle to eliminate sexual and gender based violence and harmful practices while enhancing the sexual and reproductive health rights of Nigerian women.”