The Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) has successfully trained another group of stakeholders to tackle the menace of rape and sexual violence under its Gatekeepers Project. This project, supported by Ford Foundation addresses the prevalence of rape and sexual violence among young girls and women in rural communities through the training of community stakeholders referred to as “Gatekeepers” across Local Government Areas in Lagos State.
700 Gatekeepers were trained in this cycle of the project with 500 Traditional Birth Attendants, 100 Police Law Enforcement Officers and 100 Religious Leaders engaged.
In its commitment to address the issue of Gender Based Violence in Nigeria, Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF) launched the Gatekeepers Project to train community gatekeepers who serve as first responders to cases of rape and sexual violence in their various environs. The strategy to reach a larger group of people by these trained stakeholders is encouraged with cascading the knowledge in their circle of influence.
The project’s impact was further enhanced with the addition of Religious Leaders as Tertiary Gatekeepers in the program; recognizing the importance of their role in the community and the increased awareness and prevention of cases of GBV that is achieved through their engagement.
Speaking at the close out event, WARIF’s Founder, Dr. Kemi DaSilva-Ibru said “Following the successful cycle of the WARIF Gatekeeper’s Project sponsored by Ford Foundation, community leaders such as Traditional Birth Attendants, Law Enforcement Officers and Religious Leaders have now been successfully sensitised and trained as first responders in cases of gender-based violence. This has led to an increase in the awareness of this menace in their respective communities and a documented increase in the number of cases reported to the WARIF Rape Crisis Centre.
The addition of Religious Leaders who are respected community mediators in this cycle as our tertiary Gatekeepers, will lead to a further increase in awareness, a change in the prevailing mind set of the community and a subsequent reduction in the number of cases of violence against women and girls reported.”
Commenting on the initiative, Program Officer Ford Foundation, Ms. Olufunke Baruwa said’ “TBAs and religious leaders are critical partners in this fight to end gender-based violence. As gatekeepers of religion and culture, they are the closest to the people and most times the first point of call in our communities. Hence, they need to understand the context of GBV, what constitutes GBV and be aware of existing policies and laws to engage and effectively refer to law enforcement officers for response and action”.
WARIF through its various initiatives in health, education and community service, remains committed to ensuring that all women and girls can live in a society free from rape and sexual violence.