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Sanwo-Olu: Standing against gender-based violence

FAVOUR EGBUOGU reports on the recent honour bestowed on the Lagos First Lady, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu for her advocacy against the menace of rape, defilement and abuse



F or Lagos State First Lady, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, Thursday last week was a memorable day as she bagged a special recognition award in appreciation of her advocacy and support to enhance the fight against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the Centre of Excellence.


The recognition award was presented to the First Lady by her spouse and governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola at the annual Commendation and Awards Night organized by the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) to commemorate the Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Month.


Mrs. Sanwo-Olu bagged the award in view of her various initiatives to confront the menace of rape, defilement, abuse and others through a multi-sectoral stakeholders’ committee, which she is leading, and the recent presentation of three utility vehicles to critical agencies fighting SGBV crimes in the state.


Before now, Mrs. Sanwo-Olu has been variously described as “a humanist par excellence.”


And considering steps she so far taken to advance the cause of women and children, the first medical practitioner to become the First Lady of Lagos State, is certainly deserving and worthy of both commendation and emulation. Right from the electioneering campaigns that brought her husband to power, the Lagos First Lady has exhibited the traits of a supportive caregiver who certainly knows her onions.


For instance, she was actively engaged in the Free Health Mission of the then Sanwo- Olu campaign train that provided pediatric eye surgery, dental surgery, orthopedic surgery, and adult eye surgery free-of-charge.

That proved a pointer of the healthcare goodies she had in store as she hit the ground running, soon after her husband was sworn in as the 15th governor of the Centre of Excellence with the Lagos State Healthy Bee Project. As a free health initiative it comes in partnership with the Babajide Sanwo-Olu/ Kadri Obafemi Hamzat (BOSKOH) Health Care Mission International. But there was more to come.


Upon assumption of duty as the Chairman of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), a veritable platform “to promote child healthcare, empower women to discover their hidden treasures and protect the environment” Mrs. Sanwo-Olu introduced the laudable initiative that appreciates the contributions of elders through a programme tagged “Senior Citizens’ Visit.”


Through such visits members of COWLSO try to identify and seek solutions to the health and socio-economic challenges the elders might be going through. And in appreciation they too offer pieces of invaluable advice to the members.


Speaking after receiving the recognition award, the Lagos State First Lady commended all the award recipients for working assiduously to support the fight against sexual and gender-based violence in the state, saying that the recognition should strengthen their individual and collective resolve to do more to stamp out the menace in the society. “We have all done well; however, we can and we need to do more to scale up the fight against SGBV.


Therefore, the recognition awards should serve as a motivation to spur us all to continue to do our best and key into the vision of zero tolerance for all forms of SGBV crimes in Lagos State,” she said. In his address, Governor Sanwo-Olu reiterated the zero tolerance stance of the state government for SGBV, saying his administration was working not only to curb domestic and sexual violence, but also to ultimately eliminate it.


His words: “In the past two years, we have made significant gains in our war against Domestic and Sexual Violence. Institutions have been strengthened to respond appropriately, policies have been formulated and introduced in ensuring we provide holistic care and support to survivors, and we are also gradually ending the culture of impunity as evidenced in the convictions secured by the Ministry of Justice. In simple terms, we are indeed walking the talk.


“The Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team has also leveraged on technology through the introduction of the Gender Based Violence Virtual and Referral System which provides uninterrupted access to GBV services. This enables survivors to have access to trained GBV service providers 24/7 through the established tollfree help line.


“In the few months since its launch, the virtual system has provided legal, psycho-social, referral, as well as emergency services to 841 adults and 105 children; a total of 946 cases. This initiative is supported by the Joint European Union Funded Spotlight Initiative, with technical support from UNFPA.”


The governor added that in view of the public health implications as a result of the aftermath of Sexual Violence, the state government through the Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme has recently launched an Intervention Fund which now ensures survivors of sexual violence are able to access immediate medical attention at all primary health centres, heneral hospitals and designated private hospitals at no cost.


Besides, Sanwo-Olu said the government has also intensified advocacy efforts in ensuring residents become better informed of support services available, especially through creative use of social media and also community engagements which have taken place across the metropolis.


Aside from Mrs. Sanwo-Olu, other award recipients who were selected from multi-level sectors include the Police, social welfare officers, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), mandated reporters, health facilities, development partner organizations and the Mirabel Centre.

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