By Suoyo Ekubo
As part of measures to curb issues of sexual and gender-based violence, advocacy groups under the auspices of Bayelsa State Gender Response Initiative have launched a sensitization campaign against sexual and gender-based violence in schools and churches across the state.
The campaign which was initiated by Dr. Gloria Diri was aimed at creating awareness for the girl child to be conscious and protect themselves against sexual predators.
It was gathered that the campaign in its first stretch of sensitization has been to over seven public and private schools and two churches including the BDGS Ovom and St. Jude’s Girls Secondary School Amarata both in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
Chairman of the State Gender Response Initiative Team (GRIT), Barr. Dise Ogbise, while speaking at the end of the first phase of the campaign at BDGS, Ovom and the St.Judes Secondary School, Amarata, commended the Bayelsa First Lady for giving members of the team a platform to work.
She lauded Mrs. Diri’s participation in the programme, stating that the partnership with other organizations has helped to amplify the message across the state.
She said, “This sensitization is so symbolic because for the first time we had the presence of a Governor’s wife in a school sensitization.
“The sensitization that has been ongoing for over three weeks has yielded positive results as more awareness has been created on preventive and protective strategies to curb issues of sexual and gender-based violence.
“We also appreciate Her Excellency for the lead as this move has further strengthened Grit’s relationship with other civil society organizations.”
Speaking earlier at St Jude’s girl’s secondary school Amarata, Dr. Gloria Diri called on the girl child to be conscious of the happenings in her surroundings and not allow sexual predators to jeopardize their future.
“Protect yourselves and don’t allow any man to jeopardize your future. You should always be conscious of your surroundings and everybody around you. Everyone is a suspect including some parents, guardians, and teachers,” she said.
Also speaking at Bishop Dimiari Grammar School, a boys school in Yenagoa, the state capital, the First Lady challenged the boys to always learn to love and protect their female siblings by ensuring that they are safe from any form of violence.
She stressed that they should not partake in rape, cultism, drug abuse among others.
She advised the boys to know that they are the leaders of tomorrow, noting that BDGS has produced great men in the state and must maintain that standard and do the needful to secure their future.
The campaign was partnered by the following advocacy groups; FIDA, WOWICAN, CARENEPERE Initiative, Standup for Women Society (SWS), Nigerian Association of Female Engineers of Nigeria Bayelsa chapter, the Starrz Safety Initiative, the Carenepere initiative, TEP TEP Humanitarian Foundation, GREP, and the Albinos Foundation.