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How Adolescent Girls Are Leading The Change Against Gender-Based Violence: A Panel Discussion by Plan International, NAWOJ

 

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.

To this end, Plan International Nigeria, under its ASPIRE’s Canada funded Project in collaboration with Nigerian Association of Women Journalists organized a panel discussion for adolescent girls on issues related to gender based violence in Bauchi.

The Head of Social Development Programmes Plan International Nigeria Mr Laban Onisimus said, the organisation is working to transform harmful practices at multiple levels and empower girls to speak out on violence against them, adding that the organisation also listens to girls’ experiences of violence and their solutions, engage leaders at all levels in the fight against violence, as well as engaging boys and young men to become agents of change.

“Plan International opposes patriarchal systems that seek to control the lives of girls and women, that give lower status to girls and women and are used to justify violence against them. Let me tell you, at Plan International, we recognise that girls and women have the right to bodily autonomy on their own lives”.

Mr. Laban, therefore, said, Plan International advocates for girls and young women to be at the centre of efforts to eradicate GBV as part of a commitment to a gender transformative approach.

Also speaking, the moderator of Girls Out Loud of Plan International Zainab Muhammad Sabitu said the organization aimed to ensure that all children, adolescents, and young people, without discrimination, have access to comprehensive sexuality education to gain knowledge and develop the necessary skills to make informed choices about their healthy and relationships.

Zainab Sabitu added that Plan International supports survivors of GBV through its Girls Out Loud programme by providing them with information, education, and psychosocial support and facilitates online and offline spaces where girls can share their stories, express their feelings, and support each other, adding that, the Girls Out Loud programme not only helps survivors of GBV, but also empowers them to become leaders and activists in their own communities and beyond.

On her part, the Bauchi state chairperson Association of Women Journalists Mrs Rashida Yusuf said that their role as female journalists is to advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment, while inspiring other women especially young girls, to pursue their careers adding that the body deemed the collaboration necessary in order to strengthen the call to end violence against women and girls.

According to her, this will go a long way in ensuring that girls will rise and speak up to all forms of violence against them, thereby returning sanity in their communities and the world at large.

“Girls should speak out against gender based violence in their community, be it rape, sexual molestation of intimidation, because women are not punching bags but rather men should love and protect us”.

Every year, the UNITE Campaign focuses on a specific theme and this year’s is “UNITE! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls”.

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