The vulnerability of women cannot be over emphasized when dealing with issues of Human Trafficking which has become a global phenomenon.
Globally, statistic shows that women are more trafficked than men, this is not to say that men are not trafficked .
A Large number of Nigerian girls are held in sex slavery in other countries in West Africa such as Benin, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali , Libya and Niger etc. This means that to a very large extent, women and girls are more vulnerable than men. This is fueled by factors such as sexuality, i.e the belief that women are sexual objects.
Sociocultural Factors, the belief that ladies can never do well in leadership, business, academically; they are best as housewives. This is totally wrong. Negative Masculinity, which is the belief that men are superior to women and can never fit in. Gender Discrimination which states that ladies are meant to keep mute at all times and everywhere. They have nothing to offer. They should not be heard nor seen. All these are totally wrong.
Global ratings indicate that Nigeria is host to many of the world’s extreme poor and vulnerable, the federal government in August 2019 established the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and I must commend the honourable Minister, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq for an excellent and outstanding performance and for providing hope for the hopeless. The core mandate of the ministry is humanitarian in nature, protective of the rights of the vulnerable which also branches into social development and the ministry has stayed true to it’s mandate.
Persons with disabilities have been marginalised and underrepresented in many facets of societal engagements. Therefore, the establishment of a body to cater for their affairs is a step in the right direction and a welcome development. The take-off of the National Commission for Persons With Disabilities is a Proof of social inclusion scheme of the government and this a good thing.
The rights and privileges of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) include education, healthcare, priority in accommodation and emergencies; while all public organisations are to reserve at least 5% of employment opportunities for PWDs, which means the nation will draw from the full potentials of all the human resources in the country.
The Act also provides a five-year transitional period within which public buildings, structures or automobile are to be modified to be accessible and useable by people with disabilities.
Sensitization and advocacy efforts can never go out of fashion when it comes to creating a sustainable future for the vulnerable. Men and women must under go orientation and reorientation on the place of the vulnerable and the disabled in the society and why they should be treated with love and dignity.
The vulnerable must be encouraged to speak up in the case of abuse. There is the need to break the culture of silence among vulnerable persons because the society has conditioned them to think that their voices are not fit to be heard. Many women in abusive marriages have embraced the culture of silence because of their poor status and this has caused some people their lives.
Also, empowerment support should be given to women because research has proven that women tend to remain in abusive marriages and relationships because they cannot afford to feed themselves and their children if they walk out on their marriages. Therefore, when women are empowered with skills and small scale businesses, first of all it reduces the time they spend with the abuser at home and gives them the opportunity of walking away when they experience any form of abuse, hence reducing their vulnerability or even death.
Other ways include recognizing and valuing women’s paid and unpaid work equally with men’s at all levels, expansion and provision of better ,paid employment and business opportunities for women consistent with market trends and in non conventional sectors, building the capacity of women producers and entrepreneurs in product development ,production processes ,business and financial management ,access to information, marketing, including the ability to effectively respond to market change.
Education must be made free and compulsory for everyone including women, boys and girls men and children, disabled or not. More special schools should be created for the blind, deaf, physically challenged, etc. as this group of people currently do not have enough schools.
It is very important to engage the vulnerable and empower them with a skill to make them more productive and useful to themselves and the society at large. Schools for the blind, deaf, physically challenged etc. should have skill acquisition trainings infused into their curricular and ensuring a match between better education and available job opportunities for the vulnerable.
Ensure life skills and resilience training that raises awareness and provides assertiveness and self defense training and Introduce employment guarantee schemes for the vulnerable.
Provide protective measures such as counselling ,education, alternative institutional or foster care community support for vulnerable people. Also provide shelters for the vulnerable who are victims of abuse to offer them psychosocial, legal and financial support.
There should be access to Justice and Pro Bono legal services for the vulnerable and also criminalize people who take advantage of the vulnerable and cause them mild and severe harm.
Finally, provide support financial, legal, medical, psychosocial and humanitarian support for the vulnerable.
There is the need for more policies and actions that are vulnerable people oriented, i.e policies and actions that gives them a voice and opportunities, rather than stigma and discrimination.
Lets join hands to ensure a sustainable future for the vulnerable and together, save humanity. YES WE CAN!