Sportlight: CIRDDOC engages religious leaders to end GBV
BY NKECHINYERE OGINYI
The Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) with support from the EU – UN Spotlight Initiative has conducted a Community Mobilization and Sensitization for Religious Leaders on the Elimination of Harmful social norms around GBV, Child Marriage and FGM in Ebonyi State.
The week-long program was conducted for twelve selected communities in four Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State including, Ezza South, Abakaliki, Onicha.
The community sensitization was aimed at enhancing the capacity of religious leaders to advocate and lend a strong voice against sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices.
The Executive Secretary of CIRDDOC, Onyinye Okaah in her remarks highlighted that the objectives of the community sensitization which was organized for religious leaders drawn from different denominations.
She informed participants that the intervention was carried out with support from the EU – UN Spotlight Initiative.
According to her, the EU – UN Spotlight Initiative is focused on Eliminating Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), harmful practices (HPs), and address related aspects of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHRs).
She noted that the project is implemented in some states in Nigeria including Ebonyi state and commended them for making out time out of their busy schedule to participate at the meeting.
The CIRDDOC Executive Secretary enjoined the religious leaders to be champions against every form of gender-based violence.
The Program Support Officer of UNFPA Mr. Benedict Essong in a remark stated that the EU – UN Spotlight Initiative is a global project implemented in eight priority countries including Nigeria.
In Nigeria, he said the project is implemented in Adamawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, FCT, Lagos, and the Sokoto States while the interventions are focused on six mutually reinforcing programming pillars.
Mr. Benedict pointed out that the EU – UN Spotlight Initiative recognizes the importance of religious leaders in society as role models and influencers. He stressed the need for them to educate their community on the dangers associated with harmful practices.
Earlier, the representative of the Ebonyi State Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Christian Oroke emphasized the Ebonyi state Violence against Persons Prohibition Law which according to him, has provisions that protect women and girls from FGM and Gender-Based Violence.
Rev. Emmanuel Diala of the Anglican Church Azuiyiokwu said that girl child education is a veritable tool in curbing social norms that adversely affect women and girls. He enjoined his fellow religious leaders to use their pulpit to sensitize people on the importance of sending young girls to school.
The Priest in charge of Assumption Catholic Parish Onicha Igboeze in Onicha LGA of Ebonyi state, Rev. Fr. kizito Osuji, commended the EU – UN Spotlight for such an awesome initiative.
Fr. Osuji stated that the intervention will help to eliminate violence against women and girls as the religious leaders will always advocate for their protection. He assured CIRDDOC of his continuous commitment to sensitizing his congregation to shun every form of harmful practice.
Another participant, and the Pastor in charge of Presbyterian Church Okposi in Ohaozara LGA, Rev. John Obasi recalled to the religious leaders of their calling in God’s vineyard which is primarily to save lives. He added that most of the harmful practices are condemned by both Bible and Quran and enjoined them to reorient their members to abandon every practice that hinders the development of women and girls.
The pastor in charge of Assemblies of God Church Echara, Ezza South LGA, Rev. Timothy Aliegu thanked CIRDDOC for the engagement with religious leaders and urged the participants to support the EU – UN Spotlight Initiative project.