The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has reiterated its commitment toward ending Gender-Based-Violence (GBV), Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other harmful practices against women, girls and children in Nigeria.
The UNFPA Country Representative, Ms Ulla Mueller, made this known at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja on Wednesday.
Mueller, who condemned increased cases of violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 lockdown, said UNFPA was working with stakeholders toward eliminating it in totality.
According to her, the organisation has engaged community leaders and held stakeholders’ meeting, trained health workers and established forensic laboratories to help in investigation and prosecution of offenders.
She described FGM as a harmful practice with no health benefits, but more to physical, mental, psychological and social harm to the survivor.
The country representative said that the Fund had conducted programmes with UNICEF and other partners in 17 countries including Nigeria toward ensuring an enabling environment to change social norms, capacity building for traditional and religious leaders, information and health and social services.
She noted that “the programmes were aimed at empowering women and girls as champions for change and engage men too to improve data. All of these contribute to ending harmful practices and gender based violence by 2030.”
On successes recorded in the execution of programmes in 2021, Mueller said the Fund had recorded tremendous leap through improved access to services, healthcare and advocacies.
“I think we have achieved a lot; when I just look at 2021, I think we ensured access to services.
“We also ensured that women had hotlines where they could call if they were exposed to gender based violence. We set up digital referral pathways so that women could access assistance even remotely.
“We also opened forensic laboratory, and that is critical when we talk about access to justice because that means that we can move on to prove who is the perpetrator to actually provide DNA evidence.
“In the fight against FGM. We have also been able to follow in, you know, following the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic, to review the national policy and plan of action for ending FGM in Nigeria.
“And finally, national policy action plan of FGM was developed, and it remains a key achievement in 2021, because it galvanised support for ending FGM in Nigeria.
“This policy builds on existing gains, and I think it is a huge success, developed in close collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs.
“And I must congratulate the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, because she really is a true champion for ending gender based violence and FGM and other harmful practices in this country.”
She added that UNFPA Nigeria held several summits, community mobilisation, advocacies and collaborated with religious and traditional leaders on ending GBV and harmful traditional practices against women, girls and children across the country. (NAN)