Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, minister of women affairs, has hinted at galvanising stakeholders to stand up against the continued violence of women and children’s rights in society.
Ohanenye, who spoke at the 23rd regular national council meeting on women affairs in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, said it was time for society to step up its game in combating gender-based violence, social and structural inequalities as well as other harmful practices that disproportionately affect women and children in the country.
“Any child is going through that kind of pain and violence is our child and we need to step up our game on how to protect and preserve them.”
On the harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), she said the survivors were voiceless and defenceless hence, depended on their mothers to defend them.
“Sometimes some of them die from infections as these practices are carried out in remote villages where they lack knowledge of basic hygiene. We are going to look into this with a view to tackling it from the root.
“UNICEF has done a lot to educate these villagers and till now they are still adamant. All commissioners are to be ready for a movement to sensitise them using the services of town criers in order to satisfy our consciences, after that we get the whistle-blowers and whosoever is involved in FGM will face the wrath,” the minister said.
Speaking at the event, Governor Bassey Otu called for proper education of men towards ending GBV and its associated vices.
Otu, represented by Anthony Owan-Enoh, the secretary to the state government, said men were culprits on the various violence and other issues suffered by women, hence the campaign should be focused on men, rather than women.
“The person keeping the woman down is a man, the person refusing to send the woman to school is a man, the person causing inequality is a man, the person causing gender violence is a man; all the vices are men, so, if the man is the problem, the man is the one who needs to be educated to liberate the woman.
“Rather than talk to yourselves, I would want your future seminars and interaction to be geared towards men to enable them know that a woman needs to be liberated and offered equal opportunity.
“Give women more opportunities not equal opportunities, because over the decades they (women) have been suffering,” Otu argued.
Edema Irom, commissioner for women affairs in Cross River, described the hosting of the event barely a week after being sworn in, as “timely, apt and wonderful.”
Earlier, Monilola Udoh, the permanent secretary, federal ministry of women affairs, presented a total of 129 memoranda raised at the meeting, to the minister.