The Centre for Women’s Health and Information (CEWHIN) in collaboration with Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative (GERI) has called for support and collaboration from government institutions in the holistic fight against gender-based violence (GBV).
The call was made during advocacy visits to the Benue State Ministries of Health and Human Services, and Women Affairs and Social Development in Makurdi to introduce a US Embassy-funded project to stakeholders and the implementing partners, and solicit stakeholder support for the project.
Implemented by CEWHIN and GERI, the project is titled: “Strengthening gender-based violence awareness, prevention and response through community-based psychological support in Benue State.”
Speaking during the visit to the Ministry of Health and Human Services, Mrs. Atinuke Odukoya of CEWHIN introduced the project and revealed that the implementation is on-going in Makurdi, Otukpo and Ushongo local government areas and being steered by a project working group made up of mental health professionals and civil society organisations in Benue State.
Mrs. Odukoya also mentioned that, as part of the efforts of the project, CEWHIN is currently developing a mobile application to be deployed later in the year.
“This app is being developed for two major purposes – to allow more people undergo virtual self-paced training and certification as Psychological First Aiders (with training modules on the app) and also as a free non-judgmental platform to engage in Live-Chat Sessions with Psychological First Aiders.
“The app will also be accessible to CSO Partners who would like to be listed on the app as referral centres for survivors,” she said.
She added that a baseline and mapping of relevant stakeholders has already been done to create a referral pathway in treating cases of gender-based violence in the state.
In his response, Benue State Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Dr. Joseph Ngbea, welcomed the team to the state and expressed his total support for the project.
Dr. Ngbea emphasised the need for collaboration and decried that gender-based violence-related mental health issues are usually overlooked in both women and men.
During the visit to the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Executive Director of GERI, Mrs. Elizabeth Jeiyol, briefed the commissioner on the project and solicited the support of the ministry for the overall success of the project in Benue State.
In her remarks, Mrs. Odukoya applauded the efforts by the state in signing the VAPP Law and hoped that there will be not just a reduction but also quick response to issues of sexual and gender-based violence in Benue State.
In her response, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Tabitha Igirgi, pledged her support for the project and emphasised the need to continue to make efforts in curbing issues of gender-based violence as it is indeed a pandemic of its own in our society.
Mrs. Igirgi also commended the efforts of the organisations in complementing the state government’s efforts in the fight against GBV; and called for more support from other NGOs and development partners in eliminating GBV.
Whilst appreciating the efforts of state and non-state actors, the Commissioner stated that more needs to be done in areas such as provision of shelters and skills-acquisition centres and starter packs for GBV survivors.