The Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) says it has commenced the implementation of the Spotlight Initiative Project in Lagos State to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. The EU-UN initiative was necessitated by the rising cases of rape and gender-based violence in communities in the state. To this end, the centre, with support from UN WOMEN, has organized a capacity building workshop for women’s rights defenders and activists in the state to equip them with the skills to engage religious leaders in the grassroots. Women rights organizations and women activists across the state participated in the two-day workshop, which ended yesterday. The WARDC Executive Director, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said given the strategic roles of religious leaders in curbing gender-based violence, it became imperative to co-opt them as agents of social change in their communities to speak against female genital mutilation, early marriages, widowhood practices, the denial of girls’ rights to education and all forms of violence against women and girls. “We acknowledge that there are religious leaders whose approaches and practices reinforce gender injustice, hence the need to understand how best to educate and communicate with them for effective partnerships,” Akiyode-Afolabi said.