UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, and Nigerian businesswoman, Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, on Tuesday night in New York joined others in calling for strong action against gender-based violence.
The call came at the private screening of “The Milkmaid”, a movie that spotlights the traumatic effects of insurgency on women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa.
Shot in Taraba in 2018, The Milkmaid is a Hausa-language drama about two sisters, whose lives are shattered after being taken hostage by extremists and subjected to exploitation.
The screening was hosted by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and Spotlight Initiative, a global partnership between the European Union and the UN to end all forms of gender-based violence.
Mohammed, who was represented by UN Assistant Secretary-General, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, described violence against women and girls as the most pervasive human right violation globally.
“We often speak of the horrific statistics of one in three. One in three women will experience some form of violence in their lifetime.
“The reality, however, is that that figure, shocking as it is, is a global average and likely an underestimate,” she said,
The deputy Secretary General said the movie reflected the enablers of gender-based violence such as poverty, conflict, social exclusion and gender inequality.
“This movie, its core messages, plot and story line, make clear the huge gap that remain in our efforts to end violence against women and girls.
“It also highlights the need to scale up a global and comprehensive response to it.
“Let us go out there to do battle against violence directed at women and girls,” she said.
Alakija, who spoke after watching the movie, said a lot of work needed to be done to end violence against women and girls, and provide succor to victims.
“Wow! This movie almost took me off my feet. It is like reality, and it shows that there is a lot of work for a lot of people to do to end gender-based violence.
“No matter how little, we can all do something to make a difference to the sufferings of those around us or those we hear their stories,” she said.
Others, including Ms Lauren Rumble, UNICEF’s Principal Adviser on Gender Equlity, also reacted emotionally to the film with a call for action.
Rumble said she felt “”deeply enraged” by the “relentless violence and oppression of girls and women” depicted in the movie, knowing it was the reality for many around the world.
The Milkmaid is the brainchild of Nigerian filmmaker, Desmond Ovbiagele, in partnership with New Jersey-based surgeon, Dr Oluseun Sowemimo, who is the executive producer.
Sowemimo said the movie was produced to bring the rest of the world the closest they could get to the issues of rape, child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence in the the region.
“What we are trying to do is shed the spotlight on this so that there can be intervention to eliminate all forms of violence against women”, he said.
Ovbiagele said the movie was inspired by the milkmaids on the back of the N10 note, and intended to serve as a voice for victims of insurgency and violence against women and girls.
He said there would be public screenings of the movie at festivals and other fora before it would hit the cinema in 2020.
Nigeria News Agency reports that the event attracted diplomats, artists, policy makers, UNICEF, among others.
Edited & Vetted By: Joseph Edeh/Sadiya
This content was originally published here.