I would like to welcome you all to this year’s Gender Based Violence Summit, convened for us to assess where we are as a State in our response to the menace of Gender Based Violence. This summit is part of our activities to mark the annual Global Campaign Against Gender Based Violence, November 25-December 10th. The theme for this year’s commemoration is Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent and Collect. The administration of HE DR Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State, takes Gender Based Violence (GBV) very seriously. In July 2019, HE Dr Kayode Fayemi reconstituted the Ekiti GBV Management Committee. Since then, the Committee has been working hard to ensure that all the legal and policy frameworks we have in place do not remain on paper. In addressing GBV responses, there are usually a number of issues to be taken into consideration as follows:
Creating an enabling legal and policy environment and access to justice for survivors
Provision of treatment, care and support for GBV survivors
Education and sensitization for GBV prevention
Community engagement and awareness raising to encourage ownership and involvement in grassroots communities
Existence of a Coordinating Mechanism made up of statutory bodies as well as civil society organisations, to ensure sustainability of all the above measures.
Knowledge management, data collection and monitoring and evaluation to inform decision-making
I am pleased to report that over the past year, as the Ekiti State Coordinating Mechanism for GBV issues, the GBV Management Committee has worked effectively in all these areas. Even though the COVID19 crisis slowed down our work, over the past year, we have been able to achieve the following:
The speedy passage of the revised Ekiti State GBV Law October 2019. By harmonizing the previous Ekiti GBV Law of 2011 with the 2015 VAPP ACT, Ekiti State now has a stronger GBV Law.
The Compulsory Treatment and Care for Sexually Abused Minors Law 2020. This legislation was signed into law by HE DR Kayode Fayemi on June 5th 2020.
Through the Office of the Attorney-General, the Sex Offenders Register of 2013 was reactivated in 2019. In addition, Ekiti State now has a ‘Name and Shame’ policy which publishes the names and photographs of convicted sex offenders in the State. The Attorney-General has also introduced a Victim’s Charter which outlines the rights of victims and survivors of GBV in Ekiti State.
Training and capacity building has been provided for members of the GBV Management Committee
There are a range of services in place to respond to survivors of GBV in Ekiti State through:
Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development
Gender and Vulnerable Persons Unit in the Office of the Wife of Governor
Frontline service NGOs such as Federation of Women Lawyers Ekiti State Chapter, Balm in Gilead Foundation, Gender Mobile, NISD, Gender Relevance Initiative Promotion (GRIP) amongst others.
The GBV Management Committee has been working on Treatment, Care and Support of GBV Survivors, through the use of a temporary shelter known as the Ekiti State Social Intervention Center. A permanent site for the State Shelter, supported by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant on SDGs at the Presidency, has been completed. The Transit Home for Women and Children and Life Skills Acquisition Center will be commissioned on November 26th 2020. Comprehensive guidelines have also been developed for the running of the Ekiti State Shelter in accordance with global best practices.
The GBV Law of 2019 makes provision for a Survivors’ Fund, the first of its kind in Nigeria. Since December 2018, this Fund has been used to assist at least 213 survivors with rebuilding their lives. Examples of assistance include renting accommodation, starting businesses, school fees and other needs as determined by survivors.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a harmful traditional practice that is also a violation of the bodies of women and girls. Ekiti State has one of the highest prevalence rates in Nigeria. In September 2019, a ‘Drop the Blades’ campaign was initiated by the Office of the Wife of Governor in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency and Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. This campaign saw 120 women from 6 local governments drop their circumcision tools in exchange for capital to start a small business. We recently entered into a partnership with Care for Population and Reproductive Health (CPRH) Ibadan, to mainstream FGM responses into our Sexual Assault Referral Center.
During the COVID19 lockdowns, like in other parts of the world and around the country, we saw a spike in GBV cases. However, we were able to support women in need during this period, as all GBV frontline responders provided women in need of help with medical attention, shelter, legal aid and food palliatives.
The GBV Management Committee has embarked on a series of advocacy engagements with various stakeholders such as the Chief Judge, Attorney General, Council of Traditional Rulers, Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), Commissioner of Police, Chairmen of all Local Government Areas, Ekiti State University, Head of Service, School Principals, Media Chiefs, Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and several others. In total twenty advocacy visits and courtesy calls took place. The outcome of these visits has been very promising and will go a long way in ensuring the much-needed ownership of GBV responses. We have also expanded the GBV Committee to include critical stakeholders who had not been earlier included.
On Tuesday June 23 2020, the Ekiti State Sexual Assault Referral Center (SARC) known as Moremi Clinic, was launched at Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital. The Moremi Clinic (SARC) is a one stop, free, survivor-centered initiative that prioritises the rights and needs of survivors of sexual violence. The SARC has emergency response, medical, legal, counselling, police and community outreach teams. This enables the SARC to provide prompt medical treatment, collection and analysis of forensic evidence, counselling and psycho-social support as well as legal services. A permanent site for Moremi Clinic (SARC) has been completed and will be commissioned by HE Governor Kayode Fayemi today September 25th 2020.
We have identified a group of prominent male citizens across generations who we are inducting today as ‘He for She Champions’. It is our hope that these champions will support the critical work of reorientation and role modelling for other men.
On June 5th 2020, speaking at the signing of the Sexual Offences against Minors Law, HE Governor Kayode Fayemi challenged the Ekiti GBV Management Committee to come up with a State Emergency Action Plan on GBV. In response to this, on July 6th we presented our Annual Report and GBV Strategic Framework 2020-2022 to His Excellency. Our two-year Strategic Framework will enable us plan effectively, implement relevant programs, build required partnerships and mobilise resources.
In the spirit of the State of Emergency on Gender Based Violence which the Nigerian Governor’s Forum declared on June 10th 2020, indicating renewed political will on the part of the Governors, we made a number of requests to His Excellency Governor Kayode Fayemi, to enable the smooth implementation of our assignment here in Ekiti State. These are the highlights of requests that we made:
Approval of the Ekiti State GBV Strategic Framework 2020-2022
Inclusion of GBV on the agenda of State Security Council meetings
Appointment of a GBV Research and Documentation Specialist to aid in data collection for analysis, planning and service delivery.
Provision of appropriate measures for the recruitment, retention and capacity building of Social Workers, Gender Specialists and other relevant staff in Ekiti State civil service.
Review of mental health facilities and resources in Ekiti State to aid in our GBV management programs, as well as facilities and resources to care for Women Living with Disabilities because they are vulnerable to GBV. As a result of this, on October 10th, there was a Mental Health Forum to begin the process of a formal Mental Health Legal and Policy Framework for Ekiti State.
Encourage the Local Government Chairmen to support the Strategic Plan as it applies to their respective LGAs. On Monday 23rd November 2020, GBV local government committees where inaugurated with the spouses of Local Government Chairmen as Chairs.
Prioritise Women’s Economic Empowerment and Livelihoods to reduce the vulnerability of women and their children. On Monday November 23rd, with the support of the Ekiti State SDGs office, the Obirin Kete Women’s Economic Empowerment Program was launched.
Provide adequate financial, human, technical and material resources for the implementation of the GBV 2020-2022 Strategic Plan.
All our requests were granted and we are confident that our work will receive ongoing support from within and outside of the State. We are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this critical assignment. We will continue to do our best, with ongoing support and political will, the commitment of various stakeholders, and God’s grace. As we mark another Global 16 Days of Activism Against GBV Campaign in Ekiti State, we do so with renewed strength and commitment to ensure that we do not fail those who need us the most in their hour of need. Going back to the theme for this year’s commemoration, Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent and Collect. Here in Ekiti State, we have ample evidence to show that we have been actively funding GBV interventions, we have been structuring a robust GBV operational response, with a focus on the needs of survivors, we have engaged stakeholders on strategies for prevention and we are collecting data and information to inform our advocacy and planning.
I thank all the members of the Ekiti GBV Committee who have worked so hard over the past eighteen months. I also thank all those who have responded to our call for gender-sensitive role models to help us in our fight to end gender based violence in our society. God bless you all.
Erelu Bisi Fayemi
Chair, Ekiti State GBV Management Committee
This speech was delivered on November 25th at the Ekiti State Gender Based Violence Summit 2020 to mark the beginning of the annual Global 16 Days of Activism Against GBV Campaign.
•This speech was delivered on November 25th at the Ekiti State Gender Based Violence Summit 2020 to mark the beginning of the annual Global 16 Days of Activism Against GBV Campaign.
•Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Policy Advocate and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She is the First Lady of Ekiti State, and she can be reached at [email protected]