Women Empowerment as a Way to Curb Sexual and Gender-Based Violence By Dr. Jumai Ahmadu

Women Empowerment as a Way to Curb Sexual and Gender-Based Violence By Dr. Jumai Ahmadu
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The President and Founder of Helpline Foundation for the Needy , Dr. Jumai Ahmadu has identified two ways to curb with sexual and gender based violence …

The President and Founder of the NGO, Dr. Jumai Ahmadu, said this at Igala Women Of Substance Award 2022 held in Abuja on the 19th of March .

Dr. Jumai said ” The first concept of Women empowerment as a way to curb Sexual and Gender-Based Violence is Women Empowerment and this has been defined in different ways.  It means different things to different people. Some people even limit it to helping women to secure independent sources of income. But the scope of women empowerment is more than this. A woman may have independent sources or streams of income but may not be empowered. Women empowerment has been defined as the “Process by which women gain power and control over their own lives and acquire the ability to make strategic choices.”  According to a similar definition, women empowerment is “promoting women’s sense of self-worth, their ability to determine their own choices, and their right to influence social change for themselves and others.”
From these definitions, for women to be really empowered, we must go beyond economic empowerment. Women must first be equipped to be aware of their self-worth and value themselves and to have power and control over their lives and destinies. Women must also be equipped to make choices for themselves and exercise their right to influence social change for themselves and others.
In view of the foregoing, five components of women empowerment have been identified as follows: 1) women’s sense of self-worth 2) women’s right to have and to determine choices (3) women’s right to have access to opportunities and resources 4) their right to have power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home 5) women’s ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and internationally.
Therefore, to empower women and girls the following important tools are required: education, training, awareness-raising, building self-confidence, expansion of choices, increased access to and control over resources, and actions to transform the structures and institutions that reinforce and perpetuate gender discrimination and inequality.

Dr. Jumai Ahmadu said the second important concept is Sexual and Gender Based Violence. She defined Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) as any act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power. According to her ” This includes physical, emotional, or psychological and sexual violence, and denial of resources or access to services. Examples of SGBV are sexual violence, including rape, physical violence at home and in communities, prostitution, rape, Female Genital Mutilation, forced abortion and forced sterilization, forced marriage, psychological violence, and sexual harassment.”

She also said ” Sexual and Gender-Based Violence can be perpetrated by anyone including spouses, family members, neighbors, employers, and friends. Anyone can abuse his power over women and girls and perpetrate this evil. ”

Dr. Jumai Ahmedu elucidates the effects of
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence on women, girls, men, boys, family and society at large. She said ” the effects on women include; physical, psychological, and social. The physical effects are death suicide or attempted suicide; serious injuries; injuries during pregnancy; unwanted early pregnancy; STIs including HIV/AIDS; and vulnerability to disease. The psychological effects on women are acute stress, depression, distress, emotional numbness, lack of concentration, isolation, withdrawal, extreme disorientation, difficulties with intimate relations, etc. Furthermore, the social effects of SGBV on women are rejection by the family; family breakdown; social rejection and isolation; stigma; withdrawal from social and community life, etc.
Girls are not spared from the consequences of sexual and Gender-Based Violence, which include unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, physical injury, and trauma.  Statistics from the World Bank show that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Globally, 7% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner. Also, globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner. In addition, 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting. ”

” As said by the United Nations Women, eliminating gender-based violence is a priority, given that this is one of the most pervasive human rights violations in the world today. One of the ways to deal with this pervasive human rights violation within the context of our discussion is women empowerment, which as I have pointed out earlier goes beyond skills acquisition, microcredit schemes, or other economic empowerment schemes. ”

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” Women empowerment must focus on women’s sense of self-worth; their right to have and to determine choices; their right to have access to opportunities and resources; and their right to have power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home. In addition, it must focus on women’s ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and internationally.
Women empowerment can help to curb Sexual and Gender-Based Violence which is caused by discriminatory cultural beliefs and attitudes, harmful gender norms, objectification and degradation of women, and social institutions that legitimize and perpetuate the violation of rights.”
” As part of women empowerment, the education of the girl child is very important. We must upscale our sensitization and advocacy for girls’ enrolment in school and discouragement of underage marriage. Forced marriage is part of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. It has been noted that a key part of women empowerment is education. Girls who are educated can pursue meaningful work and contribute to their country’s economy later in life. They are also four times less likely to get married young when they have eight years of education, meaning that they and their families are healthier.”

” Sensitization on the rights of women must be sustained and undertaken in homes and extended to schools and the community to educate women and men. Perpetrators of SGBV were born by some parents. Therefore, parents have a huge responsibility to raise their children well and inculcate in them the right values that will make them respect women as human beings with the same rights as men.
Just as we continue in equipping women with skills to empower them economically, we must also sensitize them to learn to speak up and not suffer in silence when their rights are violated. They should report violations of their rights to available SGBV support groups or women’s rights NGOs so that the perpetrators could be punished. This is in addition to reporting to the law enforcement agencies. The advantage of getting women support groups involved is that with their involvement the possibility of getting justice is enhanced. When perpetrators are punished, it will serve as a deterrent and curb Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. ”

” The struggle to ensure the reforms of our political system to increase women’s participation in politics and decision-making bodies must be pursued relentlessly despite the frustration being experienced because of our patriarchal society which tends to give more advantage to men. With more women involved in decision-making, issues that concern women will no more be neglected or decisions made in their absence.”

Dr. Jumai Ahmadu concluded that ” some progress has been made in empowering women in Nigeria but a lot still needs to be done as we confront the problem of Sexual and Gender-Based which seems to have been on the increase in the last couple of years. As all stakeholders work together, we shall achieve our goal of ridding our society of the violations of the rights of women and girls. “

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