Education as a Vaccine (EVA) wishes to congratulate the people of Imo state on the recent signing into law of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act by His Excellency Dr Hope Uzodimma. This is indeed a huge step towards ensuring that Imolites live in a just society, free from all forms of violence. We also thank Her Excellency Barrister Mrs. Chioma Uzodinma, for her incredible support in seeing that the advocacy for this legislation culminated in success. We congratulate in a special way Hon Amb. Uju Jovita Onwudiwe, who sponsored this bill in the Imo State House of Assembly. Her passion to see that gender-based violence is effectively addressed, and that perpetrators do not continue in impunity, has contributed immensely to this win. According to her “I am happy and Imolites are happy, and I am thankful that they did not listen to propaganda. This is a win for all of us, we keep on fighting for women and girls. Implementation is key so we are not relenting’.
Through the efforts of the Imo State Committee on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (ISCEVAWG), an alliance forged under the Expanding Legislative Response to Violence against Women and Girls Project funded by Open Society Initiative West Africa (OSIWA), this day has been made possible.
The uniqueness of this journey is in the unanimous support and collaboration that the ISCEVAWG brought to the advocacy for this law. With technical support from EVA and funding from OSIWA, this committee hosted at Alliances for Africa, is made up of different women’s rights and human rights organizations working at the grassroots of Imo state, who basically understand the issues of violence against women and girls and have been eager to see that legislation comes into place to protect people from all forms of violence is developed. This alliance leveraged the reverberating effects of the VAPP Acts in Ekiti, Lagos, and the FCT in ensuring the reviewed bill presented to the House of Assembly met the needs of women and girls, and indeed all marginalized and vulnerable people in the state. The Alliance led advocacy to all stakeholders involved including the Executives, Ministry of Women Affairs and Vulnerable Groups, State House of Assembly members, community leaders, traditional leaders, religious leaders, various religious and customary groups, and held numerous. sensitization on radio, television, as well as online campaigns. Notwithstanding the oppositions, the alliance gathered a mass of supporters from the public through these sensitization which ensured that the Bill when passed highlighted the issues, and made adequate provisions for them, and also had the support of everyone at all levels in the state.
EVA facilitated the capacity building for different stakeholders in the state, which helped these stakeholders in understanding the bill and their individual roles in addressing violence against women and girls.
We are happy to see these efforts have come to a success. This is another evidence that movements are key to successful advocacy, especially movements led by the people who have lived these realities. A similar strategy is currently being engaged in Gombe State, where we have also facilitated the coming together of the Gombe State Alliance on Ending VAWG, who have reviewed the Gombe State VAPP Bill to ensure that it properly addresses the issues faced by women and girls in the State and pushing for its passage. The bill has currently gone through a public hearing, and we look forward to its passage into law. We have seen one success in Imo state and are rooting for our partners based in Gombe state and other states to see that this becomes a national law. The involvement of all these partners in pushing for this law will ensure that moving forward, implementation efforts will not be siloed, and the alliance will be key partners with government in work to eliminate violence against persons.
We appreciate the port of Lady Nkechinyere Ugwu, the Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs and Vulnerable Groups, and hope on the continued willingness to partner with the ISCEVAWG for effective implementation that protects the rights to freedom from violence of women, girls, and vulnerable people from the state level all the way to the hard-to-reach communities.
Once again EVA is grateful to the Open Society Initiative for West Africa for promoting initiatives that ensure just and equitable societies, and we are encouraged by this win and even more determined to continue to work to ensure that we have a Nigeria where adolescent girls and young women reach their full potential.