By Anthonia Duru
In commemoration of the 2022 International Women’s Day(IWD) , the Initiative for Women and Girls Right Advancement (IWOGRA) has organised a one-day community awareness walk in Dutse-Pe community, Abuja.
The walk was implemented through the ‘Strengthening the Capacities of Local Women’s Right Organizations to Combat Violence Against Women and Girls’ (SLOC-VAWG) project being funded by ActionAid Nigeria.
Household kitchen utensils like pots, frying pans, trays and kettles were used as drums for the walk while cooking spoons and turning sticks were used for banging which signifies VAWG is a household and community problem and can be addressed by community members. The community people were also given the opportunity to take full charge of the sensitization walk and own the process.
The Executive Director of IWOGRA, Nkechi Obiagbaoso-Udegbunam stated that the ideas behind the community awareness walk are to provide a coordinated communities’ campaign for promoting attitudes and norms that are resistant to culture and norms that justify VAWG, to sensitize the community members about the dangers of VAWG, why perpetrators should be punished and not the victim/survivor, to support women and girls’ protection and break the sociocultural biases that permeates the practice of VAWG.
The participants of the walk comprised of the women, girls, men and boys that IWOGRA has trained and engaged in the course of the project. They sensitized their community people on issues of VAWG, the need to end all forms of VAWG and also report cases of VAWG to relevant service providers. Informative fliers that contain contact information about relevant service providers were given to people especially women and girls during the walk.
Members of the Violence Against Women and Girls Community Response Team (VAWG-CRT) established by IWOGRA in the community performed short dramas at the market square and other strategic locations to depict different scenarios of VAWG and how community members can come together to end the practice. The drama performances were also used to educate the people about the existence of the VAWG-CRT in the community.
People were also educated about the failure of the National Assembly to pass the Gender Bills, the ongoing National protests and the need for them to also raise their voices in support of the passage of the Gender Bills through various mediums.
The participants walked round the major streets of their communities, market squares and the nooks and crannies of their communities banging their kitchen utensils, holding placards and cardboards with inscriptions such as ‘break the bias against women and girls, Nigeria cannot make progress without its women, break the constitutional bias against women, support the passage of Gender Bills and end discrimination against women, No woman No nation, Nigeria must stop discriminating against women, Nigeria needs more women in leadership, real men don’t hurt or abuse women, stop domestic violence, my short skirt is not a reason to rape me, the next victim can be your wife, sister or daughter, say no to violence against women and girls, My no is my no! my consent matters, it is not her choice to be a widow, stop harmful widowhood practices, give women their inheritance rights, say no to cultural and social norms that promotes violence against women and girls and I am a girl and I deserve to be educated’.