By Godwin Otang
A gender-passionate non-profit-making organization – Gender and Development Action (GADA) has commenced a program meant to ensure behavior change in families, marriages, communities, and relationships in Cross River, as well as the South-South geopolitical zone.
The initiative aims to work against Gender-Based Violence by reviving values, culture, and cultural institutions (like that of marriage) in order to revive the communities and families using traditional institutions.
Shortly after the first batch of Community Service Volunteers sent forth, in Calabar, the founder of GADA and initiator of the community service volunteerism, and GADA Traditional Marriage Relationship School, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo, decried the spike of violent activities within families, marriages, and communities.
According to her, “There is a lot that is going on in our communities, we’re seeing that violence is coming into families, it used to be in communities and not so much in families, but it’s now entering into families. And once it crosses the family, then that is the end of the road, because without families there’s no community and no society.
“Our idea is about our values, culture, and the ways that we can revive them very positively and make them inform the behavior changes we want to see. People are holding onto phones and inculcating values that are alien to their communities, it has become a competition.”
The former House of Representatives member said GADA wants to use cultural institutions to revive the communities and families as a counter-narrative to some of the violent things being witnessed, particularly among young people in marriage, relationships, and out-of-marriage through the traditional marriage counselors and facilitators as “we have been on this for the last 6 months.”
“We aim to work against Gender-Based Violence through this program. A lot has gone into it. If we infuse this communication we are talking about into marriages, we hope that it drives home success. We’re now building community support structures that will strengthen marriages and relationships. The Obong’s Council, the Muri of Efut, and the Ndidem of the Quos are all our stakeholders.
Also speaking, Rev. Mrs. Grace Ekanem, Director of Better Life Program lauded GADA for always being at the forefront of giving women and girls a voice through empowerment, and other sundry training.
“Gada is doing just what we started by encouraging women who hadn’t gone to school to go back to school because we need to have education because that’s a basic need. Women were relegated behind because women earlier had no education. So now women can be counted as those who can contribute to the world.”