.Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) workshop for Public Secondary Schools’ Counsellors, being part of the efforts of Ondo State’s First Lady, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, at curbing the disturbing rate of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence among vulnerable girls in the state, continued today in Akoko, the northern part of the state.
The workshop, holding between Tuesday 30th and Wednesday 31st March, 2021, at Akoko South West local government Secretariat, Oka-Akoko, was organised through Mrs. Akeredolu’s Non-Governmental organisation, Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu Foundation (BAAF) to train 40 Public Secondary Schools’ Counsellors on SGBV.
Sponsored by the Bobagunwa of Oka Land, Dr. Olusegun Ategbole, the programme is supported by the Ministries of Education, Women Affairs & Social Development, Justice and the Office of the First Lady of Ondo State.
Addressing participants at Oka-Akoko, Headquarters of the local government, the BAAF Coordinator, Mr. Austin Otabor, explained that the workshop seeks to achieve, among other things, making counsellors to differentiate between sex and gender, know the relationship between gender and gender-based violence, define appropriately Gender-Based Violence, identify types of gender-based violence in the setting, its causes and perpetuating factors, and understand to the principles of human rights, GBV legislations in Nigeria.
Other objectives, according to Mr. Otabor, include training participants on the importance of the violence against persons prohibition Act (VAPPA), how to establish and run successful Anti-GBV clubs in schools, identify early warning signs of abuse among school girls, how to report Gender Based Violence causes, understand ethical issues related GBV, qualities of a good GBV counsellors, the dos and don’ts of GBV response, and knowing the challenges of handling GBV cases and how to address them.
Otabor, who said part of the goals of the workshop is to have them develop plans for building prevention and responding to GVB for follow-up and continuing action after the workshop, said counsellors have a pivotal role to play in the fight against SGBV because they are the closer to the students and saddled with the responsibility of encouraging and motivating students. He noted that the programme is citizen-driven and that BAAF was committed to training the Public Secondary Schools’ Counsellors across the 18 Local Government areas of the state.
“It is revealed that the girls spend most of their times in school and that they interact more regularly with their teachers, some of whom are the counsellors. This is the reason the programme is deliberately designed to equip the counsellors to identify early warning signs of abuse in the students. So we are building the capacity of these counsellors and prepare them to take a proactive approach in responding to gender-based violence. Statistics have shown that victims are mostly young girls of secondary school age. This effort is particularly to encourage victims of sexual and gender-based violence to speak up, to stop being silent,” Otabor said.
Recall that the workshop on Sexual and Gender Based Violence, an initiative of the First Lady of Ondo State, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, kicked off with training Public Secondary Schools’ Counsellors in Akoko North East and North West local governments at Akoko North West Local Government Secretariat on Wednesday 17th February, 2021.