By Amuche Agbo, Abakaliki
The wife of Ebonyi State Governor, Mrs. Rachael Umahi has tasked the leadership of traditional and religious leaders in the South East Zone to wage war against all forms of gender-based violence, and other harmful practices in the zone.
Mrs. Umahi made the assertion during a one day submit involving traditional rulers, religious Leaders of southeast, police among others on ending Gender-Based Violence and harmful practices organized by her office with support from the Spotlight Initiative at the Women Development Center, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital.
The governor’s wife represented at the event by the Special Assistant to the state governor on Welfare Matters, Mrs. Patience Ofor Okorie, noted that the traditional and religious leaders know the best approach to eliminate the phenomenon as groups that are always with the masses.
She observed that the GBV was rapidly on the increase in the southeast especially in Ebonyi and Imo states despite the efforts been made against the act by the EU – UN spotlight initiative and stressed the need for the people to work together to eradicate the ugly menace.
According to her “the reason for this summit is to discuss the best way to end Gender-Based Violence and other harmful practices in our zone.
“Through my pet project, family succor, and upliftment foundation, we discovered some pertinent challenges facing our people especially Female Genital Mutilation, rape, child labor, harmful traditional practices, and other forms of Gender-Based Violence.
“However, with all the efforts made so far, Gender-Based Violence is sadly on the increase especially in Ebonyi and Imo states. Therefore, we should ultimately resolve to come together to end GBV in the southeast.
“I believe that this our resolve is demonstrated by your presence today. By the reason of coming here, you are going home to carry this message. As religious leaders and traditional rulers, I know you are always with the people and know the best approach to eliminate this malady. I need your support at this critical time to save victims most of whom are women and children”.
She appreciated EU – UNFPA and other partners for their magnificent support in championing the war and vowed to fight it to the stand still.
The Chairman, southeast Traditional Rulers Council, HRH Eze Charles Mkpuma pledged total support of traditional rulers in the zone, saying they would be serious in the fight against the acts.
He, however, called on the town union presidents, village heads, opinion leaders among others to rise to their responsibilities to ameliorate sufferings of women in the society.
The royal majesty also appreciated the chairman South East Governors forum Chief David Umahi for supporting traditional rulers, which he said has changed the narrative of traditional institution in Ebonyi State.
The chairman of Christian association of Nigeria CAN, Fr. Abraham Nwali represented by his Vice Chairman of CAN in Ebonyi State Rev. Scan Nwokolo, lauded Mrs. Umahi giant stride in handling gender base violence and harmful practices.
He added religious leaders would leave no stone unturned with high level of enthusiasm towards ensuring GBV cases became thing of the past in the zone.
Earlier in his speech, Evag Chukwuma Elom coordinator Family occur and upliftment Foundation hinted that the partnership of his office with NGOs, cases of GBV have been drastically reduced in the State while charging the participants to join hands in the fight to improve lives of Women and girls in the society.
In her good will message, Commissioner for women affairs and social development Mrs Deborah Okah noted that Ebonyi is one of the states promoting gender equality and assured that her ministry would continue to partner family succor to end GBV in Ebonyi state.
On his part, Daniel Umazurike, commissioner for health stated that GBV contributes to an increase in the maternal mortality rate, and said the government has to develop laws, policies, and strategies on how to end violence against women and girls.
Representative of UNFPA Mr. Benedict Essiong advised traditional and religious leaders to deploy their influence in mobilizing Community action to end violence against Women and girls as well as harmful practice in the country.
Highlight of the event was discussion forum on GBV cases, harmful practices by some of the participants which was moderated by Mr. Donatus Owo, Chief Press Secretary, office of Her Execellency