By Oluwagbamila Odunayo
In continuation of the advocacy programme to galvanise actions against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Ondo State, the Restoration of the Dignity of Womanhood, ROTDOW, on Friday, engaged leaders of market women associations and council of female Chiefs in Ondo State, in a capacity building workshop on how they can contribute to the cause in their environs.
The programme, tagged: “Capacity building Workshop for Association/ Council of Iyalodes/Iyalojas (Female Traditional Leaders and Market Women leaders), which was part of Solidarity, Accountability and Commitment to Ending Violence Against Women And Girls(SAC-VAWG) project of Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), was funded by Ford Foundation.
It would be recalled that, ROTDOW, being an implementing partner of WARDC on the project, had recently held a Stakeholders meeting to launch the programme in the state.
The latter capacity building workshop was held at the Dejavu hotel and suites, Alagbaka Akure, the Ondo State capital, with participants from across the State.
Addressing the participants, the Chief Executive Officer of ROTDOW, Mrs. Olabisi Omolona, noted that the aim of the programme was to bring them into the advocacy, as critical Stakeholders in achieving the goal of the project.
Commending WADC for its impactful advocacy programmes across Nigeria, Omolona expressed optimism that the capacity building workshop would go a long way to curb the menace in Ondo state.
The ROTDOW CEO affirmed that her Non Governmental Organisation had implemented a community Response Team in communities across the State as a first point of contact for quick intervention.
She assured of readiness of ROTDOW to respond to their calls in case of any situation beyond their intervention in their vicinity.
The Ondo State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Dr. Mrs. Bunmi Osadahun, in her address, lauded the Convener for bringing the programme to Ondo State as she assured of the commitment of the state governor to prioritise issues that bothered on women.
She charged women to teach their boys how to value girls and not to raise them differently by favouring male child over female; while appealing to women not to partake in habits that would tarnish and devalue the dignity of Womanhood.
The WARDC Executive Director, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, stressed the need to continously engage stakeholders across different strata of the society to achieve reduction in violence against women and girls in our society.
She noted that, the Iyalodes/Iyalojas were closer to many other women and girls, and it would be easier for participants to influence them, hence, the need for the capacity building workshop to enhance their knowledge for the task ahead.
Her words: ” “For this reason, have we called on you female traditional leaders (Iyalode) and leaders of market women associations (Iyaloja) in Ondo state to discuss the burning issue of sexual and gender-based violence and how the association/council can address this vice in our communities. To build new ways and initiatives that deals with and confront cultural patterns of violence, dominance and power, while also empowering women and girls”.
she added that WARDC would continue to champion the cause and engage different groups to help educate women on their roles and rights, saying the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law is in effect and must be continuously relayed to women as part of strategies towards ending the vice.
In their different reactions to the workshop, the participants affirmed they’ve indeed acquired more knowledge about how they can contribute their quotas to curbing social vices by sensitising other women around them.
They testified to the increasing rate of molestation and abuse meted out to women and girls, as they also lamented the effects of unproper upbringing being witnessed in characters of nowadays children.
The Iyaloja of Akure North, Chief Mrs. Abidakun Bosede, appreciated the Convener of the programme and assured of her readiness to sensitise the Hausa communities in her Market and those market women who were fond of staying late in the market, leaving their children at home in the care of neighbours, therefore, exposed them to molestation.
Mrs Toyin Akinmoyo, a former Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Women Affairs who doubles as the Secretary of APC Market women, noted that curbing the menace should be the major concern of every mother by giving their children enough attention and know what is going on in their lives, through intimacy.
Mrs Adeyale, the Iyaloja Gbogboogbo, enjoined mothers to guide their daughters’ dressing habit and also discourage
the matured ones against taking love oath in a relationship, which according to her, is happening recently.
The Iyaloja of Irun-Akoko, Chief Mrs. Feyi Asolo, emphasised the need for market women not to prioritise trading at the expense of their children’s wellbeing, including hawking during school hours.
They affirmed that the workshop had given them confidence and courage to confront any challenges in the society, while advising the Convener to give adequate publicity to the advocacy on Radio stations, as many were still ignorant of what to do in a situation of gender violence.
Also in attendance was the Special Adviser to the governor on Gender, Mrs Olamide Falana, amongst others.