The Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN) held its first hybrid and 43rd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference with the theme: ‘Gender-Based Violence: A Silent Pandemic’, and sub-themes for discussion on ‘Medical Practice in COVID-19 Era and Beyond, COVID-19 and the Well-being of Women and Children and Achieving Financial Independence while Saving Lives’, on Wednesday 2nd, and Thursday, 3rd of December, 2020.
The Chief Medical Director of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Professor Adetokunbo O. Fabamwo, while presenting his lecture on Gender-Based Violence (GBV), berated the unprecedented increase in the current rate of violence against women in Nigeria and the world at large.
He described Gender-based violence (GBV) as a violence directed at an individual based on his or her biological sex or gender identity which include physical, serial, verbal, emotional and physical abuse, threats, coercion, economic or educational deprivation which could occur in public or private life.
Prof Fabamwo explained the causes of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) worldwide as systemic gender inequality that disempowers women, girls and other minorities to stifle their voices so that their stories are not heard and their natural human rights can be easily taken away. This perpetuates lack of justice, lack of economic opportunities and lack of protection of people who are culpable, which leads to the survivor being dependent on the abuser.
The CMD also identified the effects of Gender-Based Violence(GBV) as physical, mental, economic and social repercussions including unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and STI as well as isolation and depression which can lead to death of some victims. He added that GBV can prevent survivors from achieving economic prosperity because of stigma or physical and psychological trauma caused by the violence.
He concluded the lecture by highlighting the different ways to prevent GBV and challenged the association not to leave the conference without concluding on a concrete plan of action for government to conquer GBV.
During her welcome address, the Acting President of the Association, Dr. Mrs. Ibironke Sodehinde, mentioned that a lot of happenings occured during this period which affected the society such as racial discrimination, police brutality and COVID-19 pandemic, and these have caused a lot of suffering physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally leading to disharmony and disunity, not just individuals but also between both genders. She added that, the association’s core mission is to improve and maintain the health and well-being of the populace especially women and children, which is the reason for creating a campaign that uses the acronym –‘MASTERS’ – “M- MWAN Lagos says no to GBV, A- Ask, Listen, Respect – females deserves better, S- Silence kills, Speak Up, T- Touching, Grabbing or Hitting is wrong, E- End stigmatization now, R- rape is a crime, S- Support victims, Help the heal”, for ease of message spread.
Some of the dignitaries who graced the occasion include the First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, represented by the Former Medical Director, Mushin General Hospital, Dr. Catherine Aduloju; Former Commisioner for Health, Lagos State Dr. Leke Pitan; Chief Medical Director, MART Group of Health Services & Chairman of the Occassion, Prof. Oladapo Adenrele Ashiru OFR; Dean of Faculty of Law, University of Lagos; Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, NMA Chairman Lagos, Dr. Tunji Adenuga, Medical Director, General Hospital, Ikoyi, represented by Medical Officer, Dr. Kunle Hassan, Past MWAN President, Dr. Mrs. Helen Boyo Ekueme, amongst others