As part of its effort to eliminate violence against women and girls in Nigeria, Yiaga Africa supported by the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative Project organized a one-day workshop to enhance the capacity of Civil Society Organisations and Community Based Organisations in Adamawa state on taking collective actions towards the executive’s assent of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill. The Advocacy Strategy Workshop for Stakeholders held on June 30th, 2021, hosted the sponsor of the VAPP Bill in Adamawa State House of Assembly, Hon. Kate Raymond Mamuno including Civil Society organizations (CSOs) and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) working on issues around gender-based violence in the state.
The event also hosted the Chairperson Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, Hajia Zainab Abubakar, and representatives from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), security operatives like the Nigerian Police Force, and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
In his opening remarks at the workshop, the Coordinator of the Yiaga Africa Centre for Legislative Engagement Dr. Ernest Ereke charged participants to take lessons from the sessions to improve their understanding of the provisions of the Bill and steps to take in ensuring that the governor assent.
Yetunde Bakare, Senior Program Officer, Yiaga Africa in her session dwelt on the provisions of the Bill and listed punishable offenses contained therein the bill which includes rape, spousal battery, forceful ejection from home, forced financial dependence or economic abuse, harmful widowhood practices, female circumcision or genital mutilation, abandonment of children, harmful traditional practices, harmful substance attacks such as acid baths, political violence, forced isolation and separation from family and friends, depriving persons of their liberty, incest, indecent exposure and violence by state actors among others.
Participants shared their experience in the field engaging with victims of SGBV who are either unaware of the provisions of the bill, or are hindered from reporting to the police due to the fear of stigmatization, which emboldens abusers as there is no repercussion for their actions.
The second session on Advocacy Strategies and Tactics for the Implementation of the VAPP Bill exposed participants to forms of advocacy and strategies for mobilizing for social change. Participants in their breakout session identified their strategic advocacy approach and success indicators. They also identified decision-makers and influencers while also discussing how to neutralize obstacles and opposition to their strategy and indicators for success.
Similarly, Hajia Zainab Abubakar, Chairperson, National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) Adamawa State Chapter lauded the initiative saying, “being part of this workshop has equipped me with more knowledge of the Bill; and now I know the stage of the bill, next steps and how to identify key influencers towards ensuring the passage of the bill”.
To further build solidarity and support, the team led an advocacy visit to the Speaker of the State Houses of Assembly Rt. Hon. Speaker Aminu Iya Abbas. Speaking at the meeting, the Coordinator of Yiaga Africa Centre for Legislative Engagement Dr. Ernest Ereke commended the House for passing the VAPP Bill, saying, “We would like to commend the House for passing the VAPP Bill and urge that we do not relent our efforts to ensure that the Bill becomes law in the state. We will be engaging with CSOs on what type of advocacy efforts they can undertake in ensuring the governor’s assent of the bill.’
The Speaker in his comments acknowledged that advocacy must be sustained by CSOs and critical stakeholders to ensure that the Bill is assented to. He confirmed the passage of the VAPP bill by the Adamawa State assembly saying the assembly hopes that the governor will assent to it soon after consultation with the attorney general.
Yiaga Africa will continue to engage with participants in the implementation of their advocacy strategy towards the governor’s assent of the VAPP Bill. The Spotlight Initiative in Nigeria aims to support a Nigeria where all women and girls, particularly the most vulnerable, live a life free from violence and harmful practices by addressing the linkages between sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices with related aspects of sexual and reproductive health and rights as a cross-cutting theme.