In a bid to curb the increase in Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV), particularly amongst residents of riverine areas of the State, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), in collaboration with Spotlight Initiative, has organised a sensitisation programme for residents of 36 communities under Irewe Community in Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State. 

Speaking at the programme held recently at the Irewe Town Hall, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Cecilia Bolaji Dada stated that Lagos State Government has intensified efforts to drastically curb all forms of SGBV amongst residents, especially towards women. 

The Commissioner, who was represented by the Director, Domestic Violence Unit in the Ministry, Mrs. Olorunfemi Toyin, said the programme is in line with the 16 Days of Activism against SGBV, an annual international campaign that kicked off on 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10th December, which is the Human Rights Day. 

 In her words: “Lagos State Government has zero-tolerance for SGBV, as such, WAPA is dedicated to preventing and eliminating every form of violence against women and girls, particularly amongst residents in the rural areas of the state”. 

Dada implored Irewe residents to live in harmony and be change agents who encourage people in their respective communities to speak up and speak out against all forms of oppression, abuse and violence, in order to create a safe space for all residents in Lagos. 

“If you witness any form of abuse, kindly call the designated toll-free line 767 immediately and report the incident and we assure you of utmost confidentiality. I must also restate that Female Genital Mutilation is not a necessary part of a girl’s coming-of-age ritual and, ultimately, it will no longer be accepted or tolerated, therefore we implore families, communities and religious leaders to join hands with us and put an end to it”, Dada advised. 

The Commissioner further disclosed that enabling girls to avoid child marriage and unwanted pregnancy, protecting them against HIV transmission, and empowering them with the education and skills they need to realise their potential, is the Ministry’s top priority.  

Speaking in the same vein, His Royal Majesty, the Osolu of Irewe Community, Oba Abideen Durosinmi, commended WAPA for the sensitisation programme geared at curbing the SGBV menace while improving the lives of his people. 

He said: “I am very impressed that WAPA continuously seeks to improve the welfare of my people and I will ensure that they are backed by the full weight of my authority so that our partnership can yield the desired result”. 

“I am happy that the 36 Baales in my community have over the years, proven to be change agents who seek peace and prosperity for women. I, therefore, encourage my people to heed all the warnings and advice of WAPA, so that you can bring glory to Irewe Community”, he added 

The Baale of each Community in Irewe was presented with a banner inscribed with Eight Rules for their residents to live by, in order to create adequate awareness on how to completely eradicate violence in all forms at the grassroots. 

Recall that WAPA recently empowered over 250 women and young adults in Irewe community with a four-week short-term skills acquisition programme, some of whom now contribute financially to the upkeep of their families.