Women must be at centre of national development, says UNGA President

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Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) says women must be at the centre of all national development issues for Nigeria to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He said this in Abuja on Monday during his first official visit to Nigeria as President of the General Assembly.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Muhammad-Bande emerged as President of the 74th UN General Assembly in September.

Bande made the remark while interacting with Mrs Pauline Tallen, the Minister of Women Affairs and her counterpart, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and other women groups.

He said “if we must leave no one behind as the SDG theme says, then women must be at the centre of what we do.”

He, therefore, decried the rate of gender-based violence meted on women, adding that “rape is clearly an issue which we need to address as a taboo.”

The UNGA president reiterated the commitment of the assembly toward ending all forms of violence against women and children and promote their rights.

The UN Women’s Country Representative to Nigeria, Comfort Lamptey, stressed the need for government to reflect on the achievements recorded toward resolving the plights of women and children in Nigeria.

Lamptey emphasised the need to restrategise and reconnect on ways to address the issue of gender based violence, with a view to ending the menace from the roots.

She said “we must root out all forms of violence against women and children. We must invest in women empowerment and ensure that perpetrators were brought to justice, while victims were supported.”

The women affairs minister said that the launch of the Sexual Offenders Register by NAPTIP and partners in Abuja on Monday would provide data on those convicted for sexual offences and serve as deterrent to others.

The Director General, National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), Mrs Mary Ekpere-Eta, commended government and relevant stakeholders for their support to women.

Ekpere-Eta reiterated the commitment of the centre toward empowering women with skills that would enable them to generate revenue, thereby reducing the risk of being vulnerable to abuse.

Mrs Bisi Adeleje-Fayemi, wife of Ekiti State Governor, stressed the need for adoption of political will to enforce laws that would protect women and children from violence.

She also stressed the need for active community participation in activities toward curbing violence against women.

Mrs Ifeyinwa Omowole, the National President, National Association of Women Journalists, said that the association would partner with state ministries of women affairs to sensitise communities at the grassroots to ensure that the tenets of the Sexual Offenders Register was not misunderstood.

She said “the register is a big plus in our quest to curb sexual offences. This will also ensure that perpetrators are known and this stigma will deter them from committing such crime.”

NAN reports that a candle light procession was carried out in honour of those who lost their lives due to sexual based violence.

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