As we join the global community in marking the 16 days of Advocacy on Gender-Based Violence, the West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA Nigeria )& Gender Equality Advocacy and Development Initiative ( GEADI) sincerely want to appreciate ECOWAS ( Small Arms Smalls Division) and UNIDIR for organizing the second edition of the Regional Disarmament Series held in Accra Ghana September 2023 with a focus on Gender Perspective on Arms Control and Disarmament.
It was a 3-day workshop on Educating stakeholders and women in both the creeks and the border communities on the dangers of allowing themselves to be used to ferry arms, as statistics have it, majority of the arms will be used on women and children in the long run directly or indirectly, which in no small way further increases the level of gender-based violence.
The scenario playing out already in Nigeria and Niger. Since July 22nd, and as of August 5th 2023, According to (UNOCHA )and the protection workers in the Tillaberi region and Ayorou town, over 150,000 people have been forcibly displaced as per official reports by alleged Non-State Armed Group (NSAG) in the southwestern strip where women and girls are being raped and intimidated with arms and light weapons.
According to (NRC), and OXFAM who has been fighting for gender justice ( and verily deserves an award for it) in Niger since 1992 half of the population is under 15, and more than half of this number is not in school, mostly girls.
If not checked and the sanctions called off, it may further foster an increase in the already improvised population and civilian protection crises, meaning more women and girls will suffer in simple terms because, as it stands now, one in six people needs humanitarian assistance – (NRC ).
Project Filets Sociaux
(Safety Net Project), a project funded jointly by the World Bank and the Niger government.
The project caters to vulnerable and rural populations in 40 Nigerien communities through cash transfers and a cash-for-work (CFW) scheme. It also supports women artisans and keeps girls in school through scholarships- it has been suspended. The
World Bank has suspended aid to Niger’s 66,000 households, meaning more girls will be out of school.
This brings us to the point where we want to thank the ECOWAS Chairman Ahmed Tinubu for listening to the Nigerian Senate stands against the use of force, and the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Abdul – Fatau Musah, which we are paying a visit soon, for believing in “the refining and timing “of any eventual intervention in a bid to restore constitutional order in Niger.
Alternative resolution options rather than outright use of military might is the way to go considering the geographical location of Niger and about 8 states in Northern Nigeria, also having the Sahel region in mind. Anything short of this would have led to further economic hardship for the already restrained and overburdened Nigeriens and other neighbouring African countries. It’s a good thing for ECOWAS to be internationally eggshell in its approach despite the erratic behaviour of the transitional authorities.
Enforcing travel bans and freezing financial and other assets by those involved in the coup and their family members seems the right thing to do. This will reduce the collateral damage on Nigeriens in more ways than one.
Still counting our losses and gains in the 16 days of Gender Activism, we also want to pay our profound respect to Senator Joel-Onowakpo Thomas FCA, FCIT, Vice chairman, Senate Committee on Defence. He is many good things to his people in the Delta South Senatorial District, long before he became a politician, but he reminds women and orphans of the Biblical Job, who was eyes to the blind and legs to the lame. We encourage other resourceful Nigerians to take a clue from him and encourage those already doing so to continue. As the heavens will be kind to them and their families.
WAANSA and GEADI’s message is clear: looking forward to a campaign beyond this 16 days.
Temitope Lamidi. LLB
President WAANSA Nigeria
Endurance Edafewotu, Ph.D.
Director of Operations, WAANSA Nigeria.