November 22, 2019

By Helen John, IHP Gender, Social Inclusion, and Community Engagement Advisor, Bauchi State, Nigeria and Morgan Mickle, Gender Specialist, WI-HER, LLC

Participants at VAPP Stakeholder Sensitization Meeting pose for group photograph. Photo Credit: Max Photos

Sixty-three (63) Bauchi State lawyers, representatives Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), traditional and religious leaders, NGO representatives, and members of the media joined the USAID-funded Integrated Health Program (IHP), lead gender partner WI-HER, LLC, and IKRA Foundation for Women and Youth Development on November 21, 2019 at the High Court Complex to discuss violence in the State and support the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.

The VAPP Act, passed by Nigeria’s National government in 2015, is an improvement on the penal and criminal code in relation to violence. It resulted from the need for protection of persons against the different forms of violence and applies to violence at home, in society, and in private and public spheres. Further, the VAPP Act expands definitions of violence to include acts against men and boys, and also provides protection for victims/survivors of violence and punishment for offenders.

As part of IHP’s activities in Bauchi State – which contributes to State-level reductions in child and maternal morbidity and mortality – IHP works to strengthen State-level policies and practices. Strong collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Social Welfare Department and the Judiciary, and other actors contributed to pulling together Stakeholders to discuss the VAPP Act and the success of the Meeting.

IHP Gender Advisor, Helen John, makes presentation at the VAPP sensitization meeting. Photo Credit: Max Photos

More than 50% of Meeting participants were not aware of the VAPP Act prior to the gathering. With that, the Meeting provided the space to hear about violence trends in the State (which is on the rise!), examine ways in which violence influences health, understand the current legal landscape and reflect on its inclusiveness, and learn about the VAPP Act and discuss what can be done at State level.

During the Meeting, Stakeholders provided the following recommendations to facilitate the domestication and passage of the VAPP Act:

  • Involve different interest groups to ensure the VAPP Act takes different interests in Bauchi State into consideration.
  • Publicize the VAPP Act through other means such as the media, traditional and religious leaders, and grassroot NGOs to understand the provisions of the Act so there is less resistance to laws that are made to protect them.
  • Use data and evidence of cases of violence in the State in presentations to further drive home the need for the speedy passage of the Act by the legislators.
  • Promote that the VAPP Act also consider the rehabilitation of offenders, not just victims.
  • Collaborate with Hausa singers to publicize the VAPP Act through songs.

A success is raising awareness of the VAPP Act, the Stakeholder’s Meeting is timely against the backdrop of the international-recognized 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign which runs from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10 (Human Rights Day). The Meeting coupled itself with a Call to Action for Stakeholders to join the November 25th rally at the Bauchi State House of Assembly aimed at promoting VAPP domestication to legislators.

The USAID Integrated Health Program (IHP), led by Palladium, currently provides technical assistance to three States in Nigeria – Kebbi, Bauchi, and Sokoto – to strengthen health systems and improve access to and quality of RMNCH+NM and primary health care services. Expert gender integration and social inclusion partner, WI-HER, LLC, is proud to support this initiative and leads efforts that promote equitable services that reach the most marginalized populations while working to advance IHP goals and objectives.