Violence against women has been described by the United Nations as a "shadow pandemic" — with all types of gender-based violence (GBV), particularly domestic violence, intensifying amid COVID-19.
In Nigeria, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), nearly 30% of girls in Nigeria have experienced physical violence by the age of 15, with lockdowns in major cities across the country resulting in an increase in violence against women and girls in Nigeria, as globally.
From Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, activists, individuals, NGOs, and more, are all working to raise awareness of gender-based violence, to share how we can all be part of the mission to eradicate it, and rally globally behind women and girls for the promotion and protection of their health and rights.
To mark the campaign, Global Citizen and Ford Foundation are announcing a 12-month partnership to combat the increase in gender-based violence in Nigeria, and to address the social and economic factors that have contributed to this increase.
Our partnership will focus on increasing awareness of the importance of financial inclusion and empowering women through advocacy. This is vital because women still are not yet economically equal to men, with factors including the burden of unpaid care work falling on women and girls, both in Nigeria and globally. According to UNICEF, 70% of domestic workers in Africa are women with little to no social protection.
With this partnership, Global Citizen and Ford Foundation will also drive awareness on new and increasing forms of GBV in Nigeria including gendered police brutality and online GBV.
Global Citizen and Ford Foundation will also highlight the work that activists and feminists in Nigeria are doing across a variety of areas and sectors to tackle GBV.
So much of the progress already made to combat GBV in Nigeria has been executed by Nigerian activists. Women like Ayodeji Osowobi, the founder of Stand To End Rape (STER) and 2020's winner of our Global Citizen Prize: Nigeria's Hero Award; Kemi DaSilva Ibru, the founder of Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF), and Itoro Eze-Anaba, founder of Mirabel Center, to name a few, have been instrumental in advocating for better laws to protect women and girls, providing support for survivors, and creating safe spaces for women.
“Gender-based violence has been a long standing issue in Nigeria and millions of Nigerian girls and women have experienced the worst of it," said Maimuna Maibe, Country Director at Global Citizen. "Through our partnership with the Ford Foundation, we are committing to expand our existing advocacy framework by deepening our engagement with activists, leaders, and stakeholders to improve the lives of the girls and women who are most affected by GBV."
"Together, we are going to highlight newer forms of GBV that thrive in non-traditional spaces like social media, and work with policymakers to protect the rights and opportunities of young girls in those environments," continued Maibe. "We are confident that the impact of this partnership will be immense.”
This partnership will amplify the stories of these women and other amazing activists who are advocating against GBV in Nigeria, sharing their stories with a wider audience, raising awareness, and inspiring others to join them in taking action.
A major part of the Global Citizen and Ford Foundation partnership will be encouraging Global Citizens to take action with us to help tackle GBV. Global Citizens can help right now by calling on the Nigerian government to do more to protect women and girls by adopting laws such as the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) act across all 36 states.
The VAPP act protects women in Nigeria from all forms of GBV by punishing offenders and providing financial compensation to survivors. The act has been domesticated by 16 out of the 36 states in Nigeria and by holding the state and federal governments accountable, full implementation of the law is possible.
Women’s rights are human rights — and they must be promoted and protected. This 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, we’re asking Global Citizens to join us for our #16Days Challenge, to take a simple action each day that will help you learn more about women’s rights, bodily autonomy, and gender violence online.
You’ll start important conversations with your loved ones, advocate on social media for women’s and girls’ right to their own bodies, support women-owned businesses in your community, sign petitions to support bodily autonomy, and more. Find out more about the #16Days Challenge and start taking action here.