JDPC/V2P -Girls Voice in Government (G-VIG)
The Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), Onitsha in delivering of its Voice to the People (V2P) project identified the unassuming neglect of the voice of the girl-child in issues related to choice and decision making in almost all of its 42 participating communities. In its mandate to encourage social justice and the well-being of the human person, JDPC undertook a broad-spectrum needs assessment to ascertain the immediate and remote course of the growing neglect and side-lining of the girl child.
It’s findings revealed issues bothering on the patriarchal nature of communities and the almost erroneous view of the girl child as a ‘bird of passage’, as contributing factors to the present state of the girl child. Most communities especially in Anambra East and West,tolerated early marriage while other communities barely allow girls voice or input in community decision making, nonetheless giving fair hearing to issues concerning them. To change this practice, JDPC through its V2P project devised and created safe space for girls (18-25) under the Girls Parliament platform to obtain first-hand information from them on their constraints and limitations. Top on the list was early marriage, followed by forced labour, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), uneven access to quality education, societal perceptions and intra-gender aversion.
JDPC through parental and community assent began capacity building sessions and lecture serials with the identified girls together with their V2P gender partner – Development in Practice (DiP)across relevant topics as, Gender related Concepts, Self-Esteem, Leadership, Decision Making, Access to formal and informal Education, Participation as constitutional right. This brought about the direct and indirect training of over 500 girls across the V2P project communities. This led to the empowerment girls who are now champions of change in their various communities as indicated in the testimonies:
‘Through the JDPC/V2P project I have gained confidence to the extent that I am invited in community meetings to make presentations’ Elizabeth Ogwu from Nzam Community in Anambra West Local Government Area.
‘I intervened and brought to a stop the plan to give out one of our community members in early marriage using proper advocacy and enlightenment skills gained from the JDPC/V2P trainings’ Maureen Afubera, from Amiyi Community in Ogbaru Local Government Area.
‘Although I recently joined the group, the lessons helped me intervene in the case were an only daughter was almost disposed of her families property’ ChidinmaIbemesi, from Ogbunike Community in Oyi Local Government Area.
‘The opportunities the JDPC/V2P project present are enormous, since I became part of them, Ihave become more aware of the need to have a voice in matters concerning me and matters related to the general welfare of the girl-child’ OluebubeOnwuegbuzina fromNando Community in Anambra East Local Government Area.
Currently, JDPC has begun extending the benefits of the Girls Parliament initiative beyond Anambra State using social media platforms. It has also re-christened the platform to Girls-Voice in Governance (G-VIG) to allow for wider participation. Its presence is on the various social media platforms e.g Twitter, Facebook with over 350 members and on Whatsapp where it engages young girls with positive social communication messages to align them to discussions of issues bothering their welfare and development as against their topical fashion and fads. Under the G-VIG platform, JDPC currently launched a far-reaching media campaign tagged #PowerToSayNow here it addresses issues of Parental Influence, Early Marriage, Sexual Abuse, Uneven access to Education and Personal development via poster campaigns and online web-video.