BBOG Statement: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
26 November 2015
Our Movement joins the world to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of violence Against Women. Initiated in 1991, 25 November is set aside as commencement of 16 days of activism against all forms of gender-based violence. The 16 days, that is November 25 to December 10, are meant to ensure that adequate number of days are allocated to raising public awareness on the several gender-based issues affecting women, while also, mobilising people across the world to ensure change in beliefs and practices relating to all form violence (and discrimination) against women.
This 24th year’s commemoration, with the theme: ”From Peace In The Home To Peace In The World: Make Education Safe For All’, is instructive for Nigeria particularly, in view of the disturbing reality about the country’s education sector especially for school-age girls in troubled states; and how peace in the world starts with peace in the home, education being a driver.
The very abduction of our Chibok girls on 14 April 2014, 591 days ago, 219 of them still missing with not 1 found — young women who dared to seek education despite the challenges of going to school in their cultural setting as females, and the unsafe learning environment — emphasises the importance of this year’s theme. As a Movement, we are completely in sync with this year’s theme considering that the peace we anticipate in Nigeria can only be achieved, promoted, and sustained if enabling environments are ensured at all levels – federal, state, community, and households – to promote education. As part of efforts at creating this enabling environment, the right to safe, quality, holistic, and accessible education must be protected.
Considering, also, that education is a fundamental human right recognized in Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and domesticated in Nigeria as evidenced in the numerous laws and policies, Nigeria’s inability to ensure protection of this right opens women up for gender-based discrimination and violence.
Ours being a largely patriarchal system, is visibly evident in the uptake of education among young women. This further drives home the urgency to close the inequality gap. The implication of this is far-reaching and unquantifiable considering the breakdown in the family structure where the woman is not educated, or insufficiently educated. This should be enough to drive the need for education within the family. Charles Habib Malik, former president of the UN General Assembly said “The fastest way to change society is to mobilise the women…” Education is a veritable tool for mobilising. Plus, peace in our world can only be attained and sustained first from the home front.
It is therefore, of utmost importance to prioritise education as a tool to, among others, reduce the spate of gender-based violence in the country, while creating room for peace in the home, and by extension, peace in the nation, and the world.
To this end, therefore, on this 2015 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we call on governments at all levels in Nigeria to:
1. ensure implementation of all education-related policies that promote access to safe and quality education for girls;
2. ensure that states comply with the provision of the 2004 Universal Basic Education Act where it was stipulated, in Section 2(1) that “Every Government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory, and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age” especially in states where education uptake is low;
3. strengthen the judiciary, particularly at the state level, to ensure speedy adjudication of matters relating to violence against women – physical, sexual, psychological, and/or economic;
4. guarantee the safety of pupils in seeking education by ensuring communities and schools are safe;
5. prioritise education through adequate financing of the education sector by adhering to the Education For All (Dakar) Framework of Action through a deliberate increment in budgetary allocation for education to a minimum of 20% and ensuring judicious utilisation of same; and
6. ensure the promotion of all relevant gender-based laws and policies which protect women against all forms of violence – sexual violence, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, forced child marriage, etc.
We count on the commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure these actions are implemented in order to ensure peace in homes, and by extension, peace in the nation.
Community, religious, civic, and leaders in various spaces are urged to lead the discussions and steps towards ending harmful traditional practices, and societal norms which promote a society and world that allows for gender-based violence and discrimination, including not prioritising and denying women and girls equal access to education; and finding more ways of inclusion, and for making particularly education safe and available for all, especially for women and girls. We must all join hands in ending this scourge on humanity.
For and on behalf of
HADIZA BALA USMAN