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Akwa Ibom First lady bags another award for her campaign against gender violence

Akwa Ibom First lady bags another award for her campaign against gender violence

Akwa Ibom First Lady, Martha Udom has again been recognised for passion and commitment towards ending Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the state and has consequently bagged an award from the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), a non-governmental body by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in the United Kindom.

Mrs Emmanuel, whose work through her pet project, Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Path Initiative (FEYRep), a social intervention scheme which aims to “create a robust economic empowerment for families and orientation of the youths to eschew all forms of moral decadence,” has attracted attention globally and she has been honoured with the ‘Champions Of Sustainable Development Goals’ award of the United Nations, conferred on her by the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

Presenting the award to her in her office in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, Florence Bassety, WFD research consultant, praised the first lady for her passion in her campaign in the fight against all forms of violence against any gender, adding that her work has led to the significant reduction in cases of sexual and gender-based violence, had earlier presented a policy brief, being a research outcome on overcoming the limitations to the implementation ofthe Akwa Ibom State Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law.

Read also: Edo SUBEB: Gender equality beyond words

“For being a key stakeholder in the fight against SGBV and other gender issues and considering the good work you and your team are doing, on behalf of Westminster Foundation for Democracy, I present this Policy Document to you for the advancement of the effective implementation of the VAPP Law and other related gender laws in Akwa Ibom State,’’ she said.

According to the report, though Akwa Ibom was among the first 12 states in the country to adopt and gazette the VAPP Law and being implemented in the state, about 5-14 cases of sexual and gender-based violence cases are being reported weekly, adding that 564 cases of SGBV were received at referral centre in the state from 2016 to 2021.

She said 64 percent of the cases were children below the age of 17 years (including ten boys), adding that the study recommended more aggressive awareness campaigns at all levels on the VAPP Law, job creation opportunities for youth, food sufficiency programmes “because most of the perpetrators of these acts are idle men who do not have anything doing.’’

The findings showed that the culture of silence and concealment, stigmatisation, trivialisation, threats and intimidation and inadequate funding of necessary structures and mechanism for implementing anti-violence against women and girls’ legislations are key constraints to the achievment of the significant success in the fight against violence against women and girls in the country.

“The VAPP Law and related laws are more effectively implemented in states where the First Ladies take a keen interest in and contribute the efforts aimed at eliminating vviolenc eagainst women and girls,” she said, adding that the “Sexual Offenders Register is an effective deterrent to perpetrators in states where such has been established, updated and publicised.’’

Receiving the award, the Akwa Ibom First Lady lauded the organisation for the honour done her, saying her commitment to ending SGBV was based on her passion and that of Governor Udom Emmanuel, saying it was responsible why the governor did not waste time in signing the VAPP Act.

She disclosed that the governor has also made funds available for the state management committee against SGBV while also disclosing that the VAPP Law has been simplified and made possible by the efforts of the management committee against SGBV.

“One of the things we do is to meet with community leaders and stakeholders to sensitise them on the dangers of SGBV,” she said, adding that the committee has established a desk for SGBV reporting in all the local government areas of the state.

The First Lady who also disclosed that a centre to house victims of SGBV was being built in the state solicited for support from WFD to the state management committee against SGBV and expressed her determination to do everything possible to reduce the cases of SGBV in the state.

She dedicated the award to the victims of SGBV all over the world.