In Nigeria, the situation of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) mirrored worse than the global incidence. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic about 1 in every 2 Nigeria women have experienced one form of gender-based violence or the other (Hum Angle, 2022). The situation is further exacerbated by the insecurity and insurgence rampaging some parts of the country.
As an organization whose vision is to empower every girl to fully maximize her full potentials, we journeyed to Wassa Internally Displaced Persons Camp FCT Abuja where we conducted a needs assessment on the knowledge, perception, and experience of women and girls on sexual and gender-based violence. This happened under the umbrella of the WeLead Project a new, inspiring, innovative and far-reaching program aiming to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRH-R) of young women.
Did you know that, based on the needs assessment carried out, it showed that 9 out of 10 people affected by SGBV are women and girls. Alarming, isn’t it? Then it was a question of why this is so? and how we can provide a solution. SWAG Initiative recognized how community ownership and support when galvanised can lead to the success of an intervention. We therefore conducted a visioning meeting for 20 people at the camp consisting of religious, Community and Women leaders to ensure that they developed a shared vision on how to curb SGBV and create a safe space for survivors. Major commitment were made by the leaders from this meeting and it led to the development of a shared vision; Verbal commitments were also made by an Imam of a mosque in the camp who was present at the meeting who said “I will ensure that messages I preach will reflect a major part of this training by speaking to men in my congregation to desist from violating women rights”.
30 girls and women were also trained on advocating for their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, as well as SMART Advocacy. Through these means, they developed advocacy plans recognising the heads of various institutions in the camp. Other strategies undertaken in achieving the goal of this project are: Advocacy visits to relevant Ministries and Development Agencies; National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and & IDPs, FCT Primary Health Care Development Board, FCT Sexual and Gender Based Violence Response Team, Registration of the organisation with the Social Development Secretariat in fostering smooth intervention work in the FCT, Organisational capacity building on media advocacy, Development and dissemination of right holders promotional materials to raise awareness on their SRHR needs, Development and distribution of policy brief as an advocacy tool.
The need for organizational capacity building cannot be overemphasized as constant trainings were organized by the funders of the WELEAD project to build capacity of team members in ensuring quality delivery of knowledge to right holders. Such trainings include: Looking In and Looking Out Workshop(LILO): Aimed at ensuring inclusivity of the different right holders women with disabilities, women infected with HIV, Women affected by displacement and women belonging to sexual minorities.
Regional Advocacy Training: Targeted at equipping rights holder groups (young women and girls living with disability, HIV, affected by displacement and those marginalized due to their sexual orientation).
Youth Led Research Training: The training built the capacities of participants on knowledge and skills in key areas of Youth Led research for impactful and sustainable development. It also increased organisational capacity to be able to implement practical, applicable tools for designing Youth Led research and develop systems for engaging young people directly in research.
Advocacy In Country Follow Up Training: Review of draft national advocacy strategy aimed at developing key objectives, action points and workplan from the draft national advocacy strategy problem tree.
Major challenge in the course of project implementation was language barrier. This caused an uncertainty in assessing level of knowledge after administering pre and post-tests as about 70% of rightsholders could not read or write even in the indigenous Hausa language as such could not answer the questions adequately.
We look forward to seeing the 30 trained women lead a community sensitization with support from the SWAG Welead Team where discussions will be based on debunking myths and misconceptions on Family Planning and Gender Based Violence.
Stand With A Girl (SWAG) Initiative is a registered youth led organization dedicated to ensuring that every girl in Nigeria no matter where she is born or found is empowered to fulfill her maximum potentials. Its goal is to promote a safe and supportive environment for the social, economic, academic and healthy development of girls in Nigeria.