As the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to End Violence Against Women and Girls closed out and was handed over to Ebonyi State Government, the State Governor, H.E. Francis Nwifuru, has reassured partners and other stakeholders, of his government’s political will and commitment to ensure the success of the second phase of the Spotlight project.
Represented by the Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Moses Odunwa at the event held on 26 October 2023, the Governor informed that “the state is well prepared to take up the second phase of the SI project. The state government is well equipped to support the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agncies, and other partners to make the second phase a success.”
Nwifuru reassured all stakeholders and the people of Ebonyi that the signing of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, was not a joke, emphasizing that the law would be implemented and enforced. “The state government is committed to the full actualization of the VAPP Act. If there is any gap in the implementation of the VAPP law, the state government stand ready to address such gaps.” He pointed out, and later declared the project closed and committed to continuing its second phase.
The joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, aimed at eliminating violence against women and girls and harmful practices was launched in 2019, with implementation focusing on five states: Adamawa, Cross-River, Ebonyi, Lagos, and Sokoto, plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
UNESCO representative at the event, Ms Regine Priso, urged the Ebonyi State Government to take active steps to sustain the gains of the first phase of the Spotlight project. “The state performed well, the next phase can only be better considering the enabling environment provided by the Governor and the First Lady of the state.
She highlighted some of the achievements of the Spotlight project in Ebonyi State: Establishment of the National Gender-Based Violence Data Situation Room and Dashboard; One-stop Centre; Safe spaces; and the Second Chance Education programme which reached 25,000 girls and young women, including boys and men in the state; among many others.
National Spotlight Coordinator Ms Anu John, noted that the Spotlight Initiative project had led to notable progress towards gender equality in Nigeria. “In 2020, the country saw a significant reduction in gender-based violence (GBV) cases, as well as an increase in reporting of such cases.” She said.
According Ms John, this progress is reflected in the Global Gender Gap reports, with Nigeria rising to 128 out of 153 countries in 2020. “Furthermore, Nigeria has climbed 16 places in the 2022 global gender gap index, reaching the 123rd position out of 146 countries. This represents a substantial improvement from its ranking of 139th out of 156 countries in 2021.” She added.
The hand-over ceremony featured screening of a TV Documentary on the achievements and impacts of Spotlight Initiative in Ebonyi State, and beneficiaries testimonials, while the State Cultural troupe also presented a stage performance on ending GBV.