As reported cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence soars, the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) and Women Aid Collective (WACOL), are set to strengthen their partnership using inclusive demographic variables to access opportunities for indigent and vulnerable women in budgetary allocations of Lagos State.

Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Hon Cecilia Bolaji Dada disclosed this in her address to participants at the training programme organized for stakeholders at the Residency Hotel, Ajao Estate with the theme: “Capacity Strengthening Workshop for Government MDA on Project Design, Budget Implementation and Monitoring ElimiVAWG/SGBV/H and Promote Women and Girls’ SRHR”.

The Commissioner noted that the training programme’s objective was to ensure a vote of charge on women allocation in the budget across MDAs, in securing better livelihoods for indigent women residents of the State.

She said, “The programme which was organized by the Ministry of Women Affairs Poverty Alleviation, in collaboration with Women Aid Collective (WACOL) and UN Women as well as Spotlight Initiative, also aimed at exploring avenues of curbing VAWG/SGBV through effective budgetary process across MDAs, in order to boost women capacity in Lagos State”.

Dada, who was represented at the event by the Director, Domestic Violence Unit, Mrs. Olorunfemi Toyin, averred that the Ministry wants to ensure that women, who are major victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence are protected while optimizing every opportunity to enhance their potential.

According to her: “The Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, as a matter of duty, protects, supports and empowers all women within Lagos State, stressing that, women generally across Africa are seen as Second-Class citizens. However, the narrative should be changed to commensurate with other climes that successfully create a specific women allocation in their annual budgets”.

The Gender Expert representing WACOL, Barrister (Mrs.) Dorothy Oleka averred that the partnership aligns with the mandate of WACOL, specifically the aspect of the mandate that emphasized the need to end Violence Against Women and Girls through empowerment processes.

Expressing the commitment of WACOL to guarantee a culture of safety where every woman is given an opportunity to secure their livelihoods through a partnership with gender-focused NGOs, Oleka assured that the adoption of the newly introduced women’s budgetary allocation process will go a long way to alleviate plights of women across the metropolis.

According to the Facilitator, a Professor of Agricultural Economics/Director of the Gender Development Policy Centre at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Professor Anthonia Achike, elimination of violence, using various factors in the budget through MDAs, will curb the prevalence of poverty which is an inducing agent of SGBV.

She said, “One policy on gender cannot serve the whole world, but as diverse as issues are policies must be domesticated using finance. That is why specific allocations for women in the budget are paramount. This is a form of education which is considered as the only tool against ignorance”.

“Experience has shown that once plans have been made, there is a need to effect it through monitoring using the IGR, Government allocations, donor funds and grants”, Prof. Achike added.

While reiterating the need for the social structure of Africa to be modified since it considers women as inferior beings, the Professor said, “All these strategies will need a community-specific context of the type of interventions to utilise in ensuring that we promote gender equality across all works of life, because God created male and female as partners, hence, we need to work together”.

In attendance at the event were representatives of relevant MDAs of Government to ensure effective implementation of the initiative under the next budgetary processes.