Women's Roundtable Addresses Gender-Based Violence in Kaduna State, Nigeria - News Panorama

Zakari Haruna - Kaduna

*Kaduna State University (KASU), Kaduna, Nigeria — A significant gathering of stakeholders recently convened in Kaduna State to address the pressing issue of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Northwest zone of Nigeria. 

The event, titled "Women Expanding the Civic Space and Responding to GBV," brought together participants from diverse backgrounds, including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), media professionals, academics, and individuals living with disabilities was put together by Open Society Foundation in Collaboration with Gender Awareness Trust - GAT.

*Facilitator Bilques Yusuf Sets the Tone

The roundtable, held at Kaduna State University, commenced with a warm welcome from the facilitator, Bilques Yusuf. In her opening remarks, she emphasized the importance of open and honest discussions for the betterment of women and young girls in society. "It is heartwarming to see your commitment despite busy schedules," Yusuf acknowledged.

*Combatting Cultural Norms and Encouraging Reporting

During the discussions, participants unanimously called for increased awareness at the community level to challenge cultural norms perpetuating GBV. Additionally, community leaders were urged not to dismiss reported cases but rather take them seriously. The need for a proactive approach in addressing GBV was underscored.

*Identifying Challenges and Gaps

Stakeholders highlighted several challenges. Inadequate case management by security agencies emerged as a critical issue, jeopardizing the pursuit of justice. Participants alleged that security personnel lacked the necessary skills to effectively handle GBV cases. Bridging this gap is crucial to ensuring survivors receive proper support.

*GBV Among People with Disabilities

Sulaiman Abdulaziz, President of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disability, emphasized that GBV affects all segments of society, including people with disabilities. Communication gaps and stigmatization pose significant hindrances. Abdulaziz shared an example of advocating for the rights of a female disabled individual within a Kaduna community.

*Recommendations for Action

The roundtable concluded with actionable recommendations:

1. Free Legal Services: Survivors of GBV should have access to free legal assistance.

2. Youth and Women Ambassadors; Appointing ambassadors among youth and women can enhance GBV response efforts.

3. Synergy Between Security and Community Leaders: Collaboration between security agencies and community leaders is essential.

4. Training and Retraining: Service providers, including security personnel, CSOs, media professionals, and health workers, require ongoing training to improve GBV response.

The roundtable conversation marks a crucial step toward a safer and more equitable society, where GBV is addressed comprehensively and survivors receive the support they deserve.

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