President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Prof Tijjani Muhammad-Bande has said there must be deliberate investment in empowerment, rooting out all forms of violence against women and children and ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice and victims supported.
He made the call when he paid a visit to the National Center for Women Development (NCWD) Abuja, in commemoration of the 16 days activism on violence against women and girls where he also expressed concern over the increased rate of rape in Nigeria, especially against aged women and children.
He commended the federal government for launching the sex offenders register and expressed optimism of its ability to curb gender-based violence in the country adding that they are going to ensure that violence is no longer a part of the social life of a Nigerian woman.
“We cannot advance as a society if women are not put at the centre of all national development issues. For Nigeria to be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), women issues must be our top priority.”
He tasked women, during an interaction with Mrs. Pauline Tallen, Minister of Women Affairs, and her counterpart Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and other women groups in Abuja on Monday, on issues of women upliftment.
He decried the rate of gender-based violence meted on women, adding that, “rape is clearly an issue which we need to address as a taboo while reiterating the commitment of the Assembly toward ending all forms of violence against women and children and promoting their rights.
The Minister, FMWASD, Mrs Pauline Tallen said the launch of the Sexual Offenders Register would provide data for the public on those convicted for sexual offences, which would serve as a deterrent to others.
Tallen, therefore, called on women to engage actively towards addressing gender based violence.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umaru, commended the organisers of the event, saying rape is a very serious issue in the country, occurring especially as a result of conflicts and leading to a lot of issues.
The UN Country Representative in Nigeria, Ms Comfort Lamptey, stressed the need for the government to reflect on the achievements made towards resolving the plight of women and children in the country.
She said we need to re-strategise and reconnect on ways to address the issue of gender based violence with the view of tackling it at the root.
The Director General, National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), Mrs Mary Ekpere-Eta, commended government and relevant stakeholders for their support to women and the girl child in the country.
She reiterated the commitment of the centre toward empowering women with skills that would enable them to generate revenue, thereby reducing the risk of being vulnerable to abuse.
There was a candlelight procession at the end of the programme in remembrance of all rape victims and to mark the 16 days activism on violence against women and girls at the NCWD.