In an effort to address the pressing issue of gender-based violence (GBV) faced by women and girls with disabilities (WGWDs), a comprehensive sensitization campaign and workshop was held at Work and Connect in Jabi, Abuja. The event, which took place on the 25th of July, 2023, was organized by Advocacy for Women With Disabilities Initiative and fully supported by ActionAid Nigeria and High Commission of Canada to Nigeria, with funding from Global Affairs Canada. The primary goal of this event was to equip stakeholders and women’s groups with the knowledge and tools to respect and protect WGWDs against sexual and gender-based violence.
The workshop had several key objectives:
1. To enhance participants’ understanding of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and the significance of primary prevention.
2. To enable participants to identify signs and symptoms of SGBV, particularly among women and girls with disabilities.
3. To encourage participants to develop safety plans and social support maps for WGWDs.
The sensitization campaign and workshop adopted a blend of lecture-style presentations and interactive sessions. It aimed to enlighten participants, including representatives from government agencies (MDAs) and women’s groups, on the importance of respecting and protecting WGWDs against sexual and gender-based violence. One of the notable features of the event was the engagement of an expert on SGBV, who is also a human rights activist and a woman with a disability herself. This approach ensured that the sensitization was truly inclusive and representative of the diverse perspectives and experiences of women and girls with disabilities.
The participants were divided into four groups, facilitating open discussions and creating a safe space for sharing insights and concerns. The workshop covered a range of topics, including types of gender-based violence, its consequences, and strategies for prevention. During the group discussions, participants were actively involved in identifying signs and symptoms of SGBV and were prompted to create safety plans to protect WGWDs in their communities.
Outcomes and Impact
The sensitization campaign yielded several positive outcomes:
1. Enhanced Understanding: Participants gained a better understanding of the dynamics of respecting and protecting women and girls with disabilities. They explored various aspects of SGBV and its implications for this specific demographic.
2. Empowerment: Through the knowledge gained, women’s groups are now equipped to advocate for the full inclusion of WGWDs in policies, programs, and activities. The event inspired a commitment to actively champion the rights and protection of WGWDs.
3. Institutional Sensitivity: Government MDAs expressed increased sensitivity to the challenges faced by WGWDs, particularly in the context of gender-based violence. This newfound awareness will likely result in more comprehensive and inclusive policies and initiatives.
The sensitization campaign and workshop held at Work and Connect in Jabi, Abuja, marked a significant step toward addressing gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities. By fostering awareness, empowering stakeholders, and fostering collaboration, the event set the stage for a more inclusive and protective environment for all. As participants continue to implement their learnings, it is expected that the ripple effect of this workshop will contribute to the creation of a safer, more equitable society for women and girls with disabilities across Nigeria.
written by Otono Oshioriamhe
Communication Officer (AWWDI)