Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030. In this interview with Ndidichukwu Odoh, the Coordinator, Spotlight Initiative, Hadiza Dorayi, speaks on issues of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls in Nigeria.
What is the focus of the Spotlight Initiative?
The spotlight initiative is responding to all forms of violence against women and girls, with particular focus on domestic and family violence, sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices, femicide, trafficking of human beings and sexual and economic exploitation. We look at the negative social norms against women and girls and push for preventive approaches through advocacy for legal and policy design to address them. We are approaching custodians like religious and traditional leaders, community leaders, and groups like men and boys, to put those issues on the table. We are also looking at building the capacity of both government, service providers, different agencies, also building the voices of constituencies of support, for instance, the peer groups, women and youth groups that can speak out on these issues. Spotlight will give them the platform from being heard. We are also looking at the data component which is a big issue in Nigeria because we do not have enough data around GBV, to make informed decisions on that, so we are trying to see what value they can add to that discussion as well so that we can have a more comprehensive data for the country. There is also a component on education because we believe that empowerment is very critical in order to empower women and girls, we are looking at educating both women and girls in school and out of school, as well as curriculum review so that we can include GBV in the classrooms as well, this includes vocational trainings that we are having for women and girls. So that they can be able to discuss GBV in safe places.
Issues of sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls cannot be overemphasized, what are Spotlight’s focus around sexual and reproductive health rights.
We recognized a very clear link between gender based violence and issues around sexual and reproductive health. We do a lot of work around fistula repairs, which is linked often to early marriage. We recognized that as a form of gender based violence. Our maternal mortality index is also very high because of young girls and women who married very early. There is a whole lot of connection with that but for the spotlight, some of our key asks around the Sexual and reproductive health right component is getting the right quality of services for prevention of unwanted pregnancies, like getting access to contraceptives for young girls and women who are interested in having those services . We are focusing on access and quality services. We are interested in women and girls’ access to minimum package at community levels, so that even in the most remote and rural facilities there is basic package of care. We are also creating awareness to men and boys around the issues of SRH, to get their buy-in.
Access to quality of Care is the right of every women, we all want to see women coming to tell stories of their experience at health facilities, will spotlight engage women directly to speak up when they do not receive the right Sexual and reproductive health care at health facilities?
The issue of quality of care is something that even though not factored in clearly, most of the work that we do under spotlight is with the supply side, trying to improve the quality of care from the government and also health facilities, but we are definitely having women speak about what they want is an added value to the spotlight initiative. I have had discussions with the White Ribbon Alliance, just to go over what they have done around What Women Want campaign, which highlights the key wants from mothers when they are visiting health facilities. We have tasked White Ribbon Alliance to tease out from the pool of responses that they have from women on what they want. Our interest will be the component for sexual reproductive health rights, we want to see what it is that the women are asking for and how we can work with them to make sure the voices of the women are heard. White Ribbon has done a fantastic job to collect the voices of women and girls then, we can be the link between the women and the policy makers that are responsible for taking forward their asks. It is not to say that we will go over the process again, but taking it up from where the White Ribbon Alliance stopped, we can be the linkage to get the voices out where it will be heard.
What does a good milestone look like for Spotlight in the next five years?
Well making a significant reduction in the SDG 5 indicators for Nigeria, we are hoping that Spotlight will be able to look at this area especially where we are working to empower women to improve their education, economic empowerment and improving health indices for women and approaching that from a violence against women angle. It is something that hopefully we will see and mark reduction in the country when next there is survey of SDG progress that is made