Report By Ajibola Abayomi
The Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF) has made a clarion call to the government, media and well meaning members of the society in Nigeria to consolidate on empowerment of women and children.
The foundation said the action was necessary in order to rescue kids in the country from falling victims of the 86 million extreme poverty projections in Africa by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), an organ of the United Nations (UN) as Covid-19 bites the economy of nations.
The call was made at the weekend during the day-2 of the international online summit organised by the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) themed Migration: Remedies for Covid-19 and the economy.
Ajibola Abayomi, the President of JIFORM described WOTCLEF founded by wife of the former Vice President of Nigeria, Hajia Titi Aminat Atiku Abubakar on October 19, 1999, as gift to humanity giving the important roles the non-governmental organization dealing focusing on migration issues continued to play on national development.
Worried by the economic effects of the corona virus especially on women and children, the Executive Director of WOTCLEF Mrs Imaobong Ladipo-Sanusi while delivering a lecture tagged protection for women and children during the pandemic era said there was need to urgently address and cushion the effect of the disease on households.
‘‘The Covid-19 crisis has starkly made visible the fact that the World’s formal economies and the maintenance of our daily lives are built on the Invisible and Unpaid labour of WOMEN and GIRLS’’ said Mrs Imaobong while quoting the UN Women News, of May 2020 edition.
She contended while migration was a human right issue globally requiring more affirmative actions to effectively defend the rights of both documented (regular) and undocumented (irregular), migrants as well as that of refugees and asylum seekers.
“There are various reasons why people migrate. It is either for political, economic, social, environmental, health or education reasons but given the situation at hand, we should be vigilant on rights of women and children who are always direct victims of violence in many instances.
“The media has a huge role in the monitoring of the migration process which should be safe, orderly and regular. At different stages, the irregular migrants are pruned to several hazards most especially women ranging from rape, attack, hunger and several other things. In this case, there should be concern for the protection of migrants from the country of birth, transit and destination country.
“As efforts are being intensified to contain Covid-19 sincerely, there must be deliberate plan to safeguard the interest of women and children and protect them from being exposed to sex tourism, labour exploitation, forced military and many others.
“We must not pretend also not to understand the need to cater for the assorted children because they are vulnerable group in this era of community transmission of the disease. Issues of trafficked, kidnapped, orphaned, unaccompanied and armed in conflict children, the ones with disabilities, the Almajiris and others on the street must be thoroughly handled.”
Projecting ahead of the pandemic, the WOTCLEF Executive Director said it was clear that the aftermath effect of Covid-19 would have far reaching consequences on sources of livelihood in Nigeria raging from job loss, layoffs and job cut leaving the women particularly those with poor incomes to become the bread winners of families.
“At moment like this, issues of broken homes, spousal abuse, heightened mental health and psychological distresses leading to more vulnerability of families to poverty and giving rise to child headed households, forced and child marriage with criminal networks taking advantage of situation must be of greater concern.
On panaceas to the challenges, she said energies should be on society and migrant focused sensitization and awareness strategies, empowerment, vocationally, technicalities of Information Communication Technology (ICT), more incentives to micro, small and medium scale enterprises.
Also WOTCLEF recommended protection and enforcement of the rights of women and children through interventions in the areas of provision of quality food, health care, and family tracing with both short and long term plan to include re-integration, follow-up and referral.