The Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) has been awarded a grant by the European Union and UN under the “Spotlight Initiative” to reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

The Joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative is a global multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of sexual and gender-based violence against women through various implementation programs and partners all over the world. The Initiative represents an unprecedented global effort to invest in gender equality and women’s empowerment as a precondition and driver for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The project implemented by WARIF, will commence in January 2020 and aims to increase the awareness of sexual and gender based violence and reduce its  prevalence by promoting  the adoption of polices and strategies  or assist in the strengthening of these policies where they already exist  to prevent these acts of violence on campuses  in select tertiary institutions in Lagos and Abuja. These strategies will also work towards breaking the culture of silence that is pervasive in many of these institutions and reduce the overall incidence of sexual assaults in our universities and colleges.

The initiative will be implemented for a period of one year and will target an average of 10,000 students in these selected universities.

Speaking on the prevalence of sexual violence in tertiary institutions; Ms. Comfort Lamptey,  UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS stated that “Breaking the silence on sex for grades, and exposing the magnitude of the issue, is the first step to ending sexual harassment and violence in tertiary education institutions. We need laws and policies, both at the level of the institutions themselves and at the national level. As UN Women, along with our partner UN agencies, we remain committed to supporting the government and people of Nigeria to end sexual harassment in tertiary education institutions, and all forms of violence against women and girls”.

Founder of  WARIF, Dr. Kemi DaSilva- Ibru  also stated on this partnership “ WARIF  is proud to partner with the UN  and the EU on the Spotlight Initiative to reduce the prevalence of gender based violence in our tertiary institutions   by working directly with the student based organizations  and the school authorities in adopting strategies and  facilitating and strengthening  existing mechanisms that will provide the much needed  support  and safety to all students on campuses across the Country.

WARIF also intends to support all survivors identified in these tertiary institutions with free medical care, psychosocial counselling, legal assistance and welfare support.