A Maiduguri based nongovernmental CATAI, is providing livelihood assistance to a selected 200 women and girls who had survived sex and domestic violence.
Survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in parts of Borno state had on Wednesday, Apr.27 receive economic empowerment tools provided by a Maiduguri-based nongovernmental organisation.
A selected 100 women and girls who had suffered different cases of rape or hostile behaviours from their spouses filed out to receive the economic empowerment tools of their choice.
The survivors had earlier undergone a month’s capacity building training in their chosen fields of trade.
The empowerment programme, organised by the Center for Advocacy, Transparency and Accountability Initiative (CATAI), a Maiduguri-based NGO, in collaboration with International Alert, was one of the biggest, considering the large number of GBV survivors involved.
The Boko Haram conflict has exposed thousands of women and girls to GBV in Borno state.
It could be recalled that Borno State Government, had in December 2021 confirmed “4,104 cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)” as cases reported between January and July of the same year.
Speaking at the event for the distribution of economic empowerment kits to the selected beneficiaries at the CATAI, office, Mairo Mandara, a Special Adviser to Borno Governor and Coordinator on Sustainable Development, Partnership and humanitarian supports urged the women and girls to embrace the opportunity given to them for self-reliance.
Dr Mandara who was a special guest at the occasion spoke to the women in their local language asking them to either embrace a skill that will give them economic independence or pursue education for a secured future. She urged the women and girls to see themselves as ambassadors in their respective communities by putting to use the items donated to them in a profitable way.
The government adviser said the problems of gender violence are bigger than the scale it is being reported because “a lot of families feel shame to speak out.”
“Sometimes when victims summon the courage to speak out, they also become double victims because communities would criticise them, and get ostracized,” she said.
Dr Mrsdara added that the way out for survivors of GBV is “giving women and young girls life skills and economic empowerment to enable them to know how to navigate the challenges.
She also advocated very tough punitive measures so that perpetrators are severely punished so that others would not see it as attractive to unleash violence on any woman, girl or even boy.”
The Executive Director of CATAI, Abubakar-Sadiq Muazu said the project that seeks to empower SGBV survivors was being done in partnership with International Alert – and INGO working in Borno state. The project also gets some support from UNICEF.
He said the essence of the project was in line with “enhancing and preventing response to survivors of GBV and providing them income-generating activities.”
“This is a project that has different components in line with the localisation agenda having different national partners implementing different components of the project.”
For us at CATAI, we are trying to provide income-generating activities to the survivors by giving them skills that will help them to build their resilience and ability to stand for themselves.
Muazu said the project is being implemented across three selected local government areas of Borno state comprising Jere, Bama and Gwoza.
“We are targeting about 200 beneficiaries who have undergone months of training on their chosen vocation emphasising how they can run the business, save money and make key business decisions on their own.
The Humanitarian Times understands that the women were trained in tailoring, bean cake making, and production of local pasta among others.
So far the NGO has trained 100 first cohorts of beneficiaries with 50 from Jere, and 25 each from Bama and Gwoza.
The second cohort of 100 beneficiaries would be trained and given empowerment kits in the coming weeks.
Mr Muazu said other local NGOs like Go Strong Foundation provide the skills training, while the Center for Social Cohesion, Peace and Empowerment, drilled the women on peacebuilding, while CATAI provided them with the empowerment tools.
Some of the beneficiaries, a young woman who survived rape that led her to get pregnant and subsequently delivered a baby that died after two weeks, said she was happy that her life dream of becoming a seamstress had become a reality when she was handed a new sewing machine.
The young lady, in her mid-20s, names withheld, said an elderly man sent her on an errand before he raped her at the time abe was delivering his message to him in his house.
Another survivor, a married woman in her 30s said she faces continuous battering from her husband especially when he wants to have sexual intercourse with her.
She said she could not run away from the man because she has no means of taking care of her children.
Various speakers, including implementation partners, community leaders and government officials advised the beneficiaries to make the most out of the opportunity given to them and avoid the temptation of selling off the items.