As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to celebrate the 2021 International Women’s Day, (IWD) the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Tony Ojukwu Esq. has said that women deserve a future free from any form of violence, adding that they should be respected and included all spheres of the nation-building.
Ojukwu who started this on the eve of the IWD said women are the reason for the growth of the human race and they play a very crucial role in development. As such, “they deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotype and violence; the future that is sustainable, peaceful with equal rights and opportunities for all”.
“We cannot get to such a wonderful future except we have women on every table where crucial decisions that benefit every person regardless of place and creed are made,” he added.
In a statement issued on Monday by the Deputy Director Public Affairs of NHRC, Fatimah Agwai Mohammed, Mr. Ojukwu said this year’s theme “Choose to Challenge” is apt, therefore urged Nigerians to support the fight against inequality in all its ramifications and collectively help to create an inclusive world.
He urged Nigerians in all worth of life to challenge inequality and violence against women, stressing that equality for women is progress for all. According to him, countries with a higher level of gender equality have higher economic growth and better protection for the rights of women; saying that women participation in peace and security work and women negotiators will increase the chances of sustainable peace.
The Human Rights Boss said as an institution mandated to promote and protect human rights; the Commission has in recent time passionately chosen to focus on issues affecting women, especially Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) which he described as one of the major impediments to the development of any society.
Barrister Ojukwu further stated that SGBV was exacerbated by the lock-down occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. He however assured that as the country fights the scourge of the pandemic, women must be respected and given the opportunity to show their potentials in nation-building, rather than being perpetually oppressed and violated for the slightest reason.
According to the Executive Secretary, the Commission has done a lot to address the issue of SGBV in so many ways including; setting up a Special Investigation Panel on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence made up of experts in the field of gender-based violence. The panel with the support of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative is currently sitting across the country to receive, hear and investigate complaints of SGBV and make appropriate determinations and recommendations from their findings.
However, Ojukwu said the Commission with the support of The CANNS has developed a web application called UNSUB App, where members of the public could report cases of SGBV for themselves or on behalf of others. The commission also embarked on 16 days of activism across the federation with several advocacy activities to draw attention to the ills of SGBV, Ojukwu added.
Meanwhile, the Chief Human Rights Officer is using the opportunity of the IWD to call on the government to put mercenaries in place to “provide security in our public schools to encourage more girls to acquire education, as educating a girl child is educating a whole nation”, and to also make the implementation of safe the school declaration programme a priority as it would enhance the standard of education which in the long run will be beneficial to the girl child and the society at large.