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WACOL, Ebonyi North stakeholders partner against harmful traditional norms

Stakeholders in the North Senatorial district of Ebonyi State has undertaken to permanently outlaw all forms of harmful traditional practices against women and girls in their communities.


The commitment was the outcome of a one-day community outreach and Town hall meeting held Wednesday in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital.


The meeting was facilitated by a Nongovernmental Organization, Women Aid Collective (WACOL) under its project, Transformation and Translation of Social Norms and Practices in the Southeast and Southsouth States in Nigeria, with support from Ford Foundation, West Africa.


The meeting involved traditional rulers, Community-Based Organizations, Women Groups, Civil Society Organizations; relevant Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies; religious organizations and the media, among other stakeholders.


In a documented communique resulting from deliberations at the meeting, participants undersigned to end child/underaged marriage, female genital cutting/mutilation, harmful widowhood practices, denying women inheritance rights and other discriminatory norms which abound in most communities.


The communique was endorsed by His Royal Highness, Eze Fidelis Nwonumara of Amagu Community in Abakaliki local government area for traditional rulers and George Etamesor of the Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Centre for CSOs, among other signatories.


Part of the communique reads: “We the people of Ebonyi North Senatorial zone of Ebonyi State, rising from an inclusive Town hall meeting held on 5th day of July, 2023, facilitated by Women Aid Collective (WACOL) with funding from Ford Foundation, West Africa…after extensive interaction have made the following resolutions that:

“No female child below the age of 18 years shall be given out in marriage in communities located within Ebonyi North Senatorial district.


“We commit to work to ensure all forms of harmful widowhood practices perpetrated against widows such as forceful shaving of hairs, disinheritance of husband’s property or estate; forceful ejection from husband’s house, forcing a widow to drink water used to wash her husband’s corpse; forcing a widow into seclusion, and wearing special clothing for months, etc, are eradicated from our various communities.”


The communique further recommended that female children have the right to share from the family’s property with their male counterparts as ruled by the supreme court.


It also added: ” Female genital cutters/Traditional Birth Attendant who engage in female circumcision would be sanctioned and penalized in Ebonyi North zone.”


Taking participants through the objectives of the meeting, the WACOL’s Communication and Project Manager who represented the Executive Director, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, stated that the goal of the project was to transform traditional institutions and advance women’s rights campaign to eliminate discrimination and violence against women and girls.


He added that it was aimed at improving access to justice by enhancing women’s capacity to engage traditional and cultural leaders, customary court judges and communities to enforce modern laws that support gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.


In separate presentations, the resource persons at the meeting: Barr. Nnenna Onuoha, a Chief Registrar at High Court, Abakaliki and Dr. Malachy Ochie of the department of Political Science, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, took participants through the various norms and practices infringing on women’s rights and the strategies towards ending them.


In an interview, one of the participants and Coordinator, GBV Taskforce, Ebonyi State, Barr. Mrs Faithvin Nwanchor, commended WACOL and its partners for the initiative.


She assured that the Taskforce would continue to leverage on the provisions of the domesticated Violence Against Persons Prohibition law in the State to stem all appearances of Gender-based violence and other dehumanizing treatments, especially against women, girls and other vulnerable groups across the State.


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