Wife of Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Olayemi Oyebanji, has declared her readiness to step up the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) through a collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

Dr. Oyebanji disclosed this in her office when she received a delegation from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and two civil society organizations, Balm in Gilead Foundation (BIGIF) and Gender Mobile Initiative.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media in the office of the wife of the Governor, Odunayo Ogunmola, the UNICEF delegation was led by the agency’s Chief Child Protection Specialist in its Nigeria Office, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim.

Represented by the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Peju Babafemi, Dr. Oyebanji declared that a total war would be waged and sustained against FGM which she described as a form of Gender Based Violence (GBV).

She explained that her office had developed a work plan in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development noting that the civil society organizations would receive the support of the state government in sensitizing the citizenry against FGM.

Describing the practice as “degrading and dehumanizing,” the First Lady told her guests that various initiatives had been put in place to reduce FGM in the state which include the “Drop the Blade” Campaign across the grassroots to discourage the practitioners of the practice and save the girl-child.

According to her, other initiatives like Adolescent Girls’ Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) and Back to School Programme are complementary to the fight against FGM and other forms of GBV.

She said: “FGM is degrading and dehumanizing and so in all our advocacy programmes, we are making sure that we speak against FGM and we are also taking practical steps in organizing sensitization programmes in conjunction with CSOs on the issue of FGM.

“With the commitment of the Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji Administration to eradicating GBV especially FGM, we are going to have a great success. In a coupe of days, GBV Management Committee led by the First Lady will start working after the inauguration as Mr. Governor has approved the composition of that Committee.

“For us here in Ekiti, it is a total war against FGM and UNICEF will not be disappointed by supporting our CSOs in supporting our vision. We pledge our unflinching commitment to the movements to end FGM.”

Earlier, the Nigeria Chief Child Protection Specialist, United Nations Child Education Fund, UNICEF, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim noted that the country has one of the highest prevalence in Africa.

She remarked that much successes had however been made through national policies and action plans with the support of local government, religious leaders and traditional rulers.

Mrs. Ibrahim emphasized that all Nigerians needed to be involved, by standing up against those that were actually perpetrating, aiding and abetting the scourge.

The UNICEF chief described the Office of the First Lady and the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development as the rallying points for galvanizing, mobilizing and encouraging all women-led organizations and groups to make commitment and join the movement to end FGM for good in the state.

In their separate presentations, the Executive Director, Balm in Gilead Foundation(BIGIF), Mrs. Tumininu Adedeji and a representative of Gender Mobile Initiative, Mrs. Blessing Omotunde suggested that the state needed to look inward and see what to do better in reducing the prevalent of the menace owing to its harsh consequences.

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