The Financial Control & Strategy Group, over the last 7 years has focused on implementing projects and bringing awareness to issues affecting women and children in particular. This focus on women and children is borne out of the fact that these groups of humanity are the most vulnerable, worst hit by social ills, archaic value systems and so on.
This year, the Group focused on the issue of sexual and domestic violence against women and children. This initiative was influenced and strengthened by the available statistics for violence against women and children in Nigeria. A 2014 report adapted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from the National Population Commission of Nigeria, UNICEF Nigeria, and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that: There is a high prevalence of violence against children in Nigeria; violence is rarely an isolated incident; violence starts at a young age; perpetrators are overwhelmingly people whom children know; incidents are rarely reported and most victims are unaware of how to or from where to seek help, and rarely receive help when it is sought; and violence has serious impacts on girls’ and boys’ lives and future.
Leveraging the Lagos State’s response platform, the Domestic & Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), and in keying into the UN’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, the Group organized various activities to create awareness, educate and encourage participation of the public in the fight against this vice. Activities include: School sensitization programs across 3 educational districts in Lagos State, and a stakeholders’ forum titled “It’s on You and I to end Violence against Women and Children” which featured a panel discussion, and a lead paper which was presented by renowned Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana. The stakeholders’ forum attracted over 300 guests from various sectors of the society – school children, university students, government officials, human rights activists, media, entertainment, medical practitioners, traditional rulers, market association as well as dignitaries/special guests including the Lagos State Commissioner for Police, the Chairman, Access Bank Board of Directors, Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga, and the MD, Herbert Wigwe. The Attorney-General and Wife of the Governor of Lagos State were duly represented.
The aim was to create a change in the mind-set of the public, so that individuals and communities are encouraged to take action whenever necessary. The objectives of the initiative include the following: Education of children and the general public on the prevalence of abuse in the society; Awareness of resolution channels in the event of any incidence of abuse; Encourage public interest and participation in tackling abuse, and Support (infrastructure) for response agencies and agents such as the DSVRT.
Impact was made as over a 4-week period, the Group was able to educate and train over 1,500 primary school children, drawn from over 100 State and Private Schools, and their teachers, providing them with necessary resources (Educational materials such as books and fliers), enlighten and encourage public participation in tackling this issue, and pledge N1Million to fund the Lagos State DSVRT’s priority projects over the next year. The Group also visited and donated gifts and food items to the Lagos State Childrens’ Centre in Surulere which caters to abandoned/abused children between the ages of 6 and 10 years. It is safe to state that the reaches of the symposium go far. The power of the right kind of information cannot be underestimated and will go a long way to motivate people to stand up against this vice.