BusinessDay

Enugu monarchs condemn violence against women, girls

…Vow to end the age-long menace

The Council of Traditional Rulers in Enugu has condemned all forms of violence against women and girls in the state and pledged its commitment to empower women and girls in the state.

In a communiqué issued by the council at the end of a multi-stakeholders strategic conference aimed to end all forms of violence against women and girls in the state, organised by Women Aid Collective (WACOL) with the support of Ford Foundation, the traditional rulers in Enugu State also affirmed that they were committed to eliminating harmful traditional practices such as marrying out a girl child and abolition of sacrificing female children to the shrine and Female Genital Mutilation.

The communiqué, which was signed by the Chairman of Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, Ambassador Lawrence O. C. Agubuzu expressed the council’s commitment to respecting the rights of widows and widowers in the state.

In the communiqué, the traditional rulers who were drawn from all Local Government Areas across the state said that they were devoted to implementing the Supreme Court judgment that females have a right to inherit property from the family estate whether married or not.

The communiqué reads: “That we encourage women leadership at community level, and that we are committed to mediating in human rights and women’s rights cases in line with state, national, regional and international human rights laws.

“That we make commitment towards actions to codify communal laws and regulations that will protect women and girls which include rejection of harmful traditional widowhood practices, including disinheritance of widows.”

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Earlier in his goodwill message, HRH Igwe Agubuzu commended the Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for the liberal disposition of his government towards the traditional institution in the state, adding that he restored the dignity of the Enugu State Traditional Institution.

Agubuzu, who is also a retired career Ambassador and former ASG to the African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, commended WACOL for her consistency and doggedness in leading the fight to end violence against women and girls in the society.

Speaking also at the event, Founding Director of WACOL/WACOL Tamar-SARC, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, aprofessor, reeled out the aim of the conference which includes seeking solution and intervention to end impunity of violence perpetrated against women in the society.

Ezeilo, who was the former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, assured that WACOL would continue to work relentlessly in partnership with the critical stakeholders to finally end the spate of violence against women and all forms of gender discrimination in the society.

Among stakeholders in the conference, who made concerted commitment and showed solidarity in the crusade, included the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters in Enugu State, C.O C Egumgbe, who was represented by Chinemelum Onuoha.

The Commissioner assured that his ministry would continue to collaborate with WACOL and the traditional rulers to ensure a total abolition of harmful traditional practices and gender-biased customary laws targeting women and the girls.

Egumgbe announced that gazettes of the Chieftaincy Constitution of all the communities in the State can be accessed online at the commission’s website.

According to him, the Governor of Enugu State also facilitated the innovation, adding that WACOL could track these constitutions to identify any community in Enugu State whose constitution has any section that is gender-biased.

This Multi-Stakeholders Strategic Conference in addition had in its attendance delegates from the line Ministries of Gender Affairs, Chieftaincy Matters and the 50/50 Action Women Advocacy group of Enugu State.

It is interesting to note that 50/50 Action Women Advocacy group was set up by WACOL to lead a high level advocacy primarily to eradicate harmful cultural norms that subjugate the interest of women in the state. They are made up of Women’s Rights advocates, women professionals, women in business including market women, women in media, women chiefs, wives of traditional rulers, women in leadership, women in politics, women-led CBOs and FBOs as well as other community women.

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