At least 2,000 women and girls have taken to the streets as part of the Freedom Run, a sports activity to raise public awareness on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Ebonyi, Nigeria.
The Spotlight Initiative-supported activity saw participants walk or run more than 8km along the road from Pa Ngele Oruta township stadium to the Ecumenical Centre in Abakaliki, Ebonyi. The event brought together government, civil society organizations (CSOs), implementing partners and representatives of the UN. Deputy Governor Dr Kelechi Igwe, representing the Governor, applauded the partnership between the state and the Initiative, describing the relationship as “robust and prosperous”.
The Governor also applauded UNESCO for the programmes they've implemented in the state in an effort to address violence against women and girls and encouraged them to deepen their engagement in other states.
A representative of the Governor's wife, Mrs. Rachel Umahi, said that “gender-based violence is no longer allowed in the state as we have fought tirelessly to liberate girls and women from all forms of violence”. She added that perpetrators would not go unpunished. Ebonyi state was the first state in Nigeria to adopt the Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.
The Head of UNESCO Nigeria's Social and Human Sciences Sector, Dr. Nneka Okafor said the objective of the Freedom Run was “to raise public awareness on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) especially for women and girls; to promote the values of sports in fighting against SGBV, and to increase knowledge of the existing rights of women and girls among all stakeholders.”
Editor's note: This article was taken from the June 2021 Edition of the UN News Letter, Nigeria edited by Dr. Seyi Soremekun.