Thursday, December 11, 2008

What does Human Rights Mean to you?

Dec 10, 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What Does Human Rights Mean to You?

Post your thoughts as a response video.

More Information: Contest rules, prizes, and deadline

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Full text in 337 languages

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

16 Days of Activism is here again!

Concept for BAOBAB’s 2008 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence
In Commemoration of the UDHR @ 60

BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights is joining the rest of the world to mark this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender based violence. This year is remarkable because it also coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. BAOBAB’s commemoration of this year’s 16 Days will be centered on the 60th Anniversary of the UDHR. The emphasis around the UDHR 60 is important because without the practical recognition of the human rights of women, the total realization of the human rights of all is still very far from us. The period is a great medium to further reiterate the call for a world of peace free from injustice and discrimination.
Advocacy around women’s rights issues in the last 6 decades has resulted in some significant but not sufficient changes.

Very good examples include the various international instruments at the United Nations level and at the African regional level. One persistent challenge has been the non domestication of these treaties at the National more

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Young Women In Nigeria protest against Naval beating of Lady

WE ARE NOT HAPPY :: A message from some Young Women in Nigeria in reaction to the beating of Uzoma Okere.....

We learnt recently about a case where six armed naval ratings attached to a Rear Admiral went berserk in Lagos , beating up and stripping a lady identified as Uzoma Okere. This is totally unacceptable and as citizens of this country, we believe that we have a responsibility to call on other Nigerians especially the governement, law practitioners and other relevant authorities to bring these men to justice. In a country where we are committed to protecting the human rights of individuals, we cannot fold our arms and do nothing. We were not there at the scene of the incidence to stop such distaseteful act but we can still do something and even if we cannot do anything, we will speak against it. This is totally wrong.

This young lady could be any one of us, our mother, our sister, cousin, aunty or someone close to us. She id the victim today. Tommorrow we do not know who it will be. Should we continue to live in fear? Is our country not safe enough? Can we not find refuge in our justice system? I don't think any of these is true.

We as young Nigerian women are not happy with what has happened and we are saying something about it now. We are also calling on our mothers, fathers, uncles, aunties, brothers, sisters and others who have the authority and resources to punish these culprits to do so. This is the time for change in the world and we have to contribute in our own little way to creating that positive change and making the world a better and safer place for us, our mothers and daughters.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nigerians react to naval ratings‘ assault on lady

Nigerians react to naval ratings‘ assault on lady

By Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe, Olalekan Adetayo and Victor Sam
Published: Wednesday, 5 Nov 2008

Angry reactions on Tuesday trailed the Monday assault by armed naval ratings on a lady, Uzoma Okere, in Lagos.
All those who reacted, including human rights activists and hundreds of online readers of THE PUNCH, described the act as barbaric and called for the prosecution of the perpetrators.
The reactions came at a time when some concerned Lagosians who witnessed and recorded the dastardly act on a camcoder released its video footage to the public.
Six armed naval ratings attached to a Rear Admiral identified as Harry Arogundade, went wild on Monday on Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, beating and stripping the lady naked.
According to eyewitnesses, the naval ratings hit the lady with their gun butts and beat her with horsewhips.
She was accused of not quickly giving way for the naval officer‘s convoy on her way home in her Mitsubishi Colt car.
By the time the rage ended, Okere, who was forcibly handcuffed and dragged into a private residence on the street in a humiliating assault, was left with a battered face, blood-shot eyes and bruises all over her body.
She was admitted at Kamorass Hospital on Victoria Island.
As at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 98 reactions had been posted to THE PUNCH‘s website by Nigerians (both at home and in the Diaspora) who were irked by the incident, making the news item top on the list of most read stories on the website for the day.
All of them agreed that no man, no matter his social status, had the right to infringe on another citizen‘s fundamental human right.
In her reaction, the Director, Gender Development Action, Ms. Ada Agina-Ude, described the assault on the lady as a display of raw power.
In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, Agina-Ude called on lawyers, women and human rights activists, to rally round the lady with a view to getting justice.
She said, ”My first reaction is that what type of military personnel will beat a woman to that extent because of a traffic offence, assuming she even committed it. I don‘t understand that kind of mentality.
”She did the right thing by getting a lawyer. I plead with the lawyer to ensure that the case is pursued to the end.”
Another activist, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, while describing the incident as condemnable and barbaric, said all those involved should be brought to book.
She added that it was regrettable that a Rear Admiral who should be looked up to by junior officers for direction could allow his boys to misbehave in his presence.
Also, the Deputy Director, Women Advocacy and Documentation Research Centre, Mrs. Grace Ketefe, said the naval ratings‘ action was against the dignity of a woman.
Ketefe said because of her organisation‘s belief that the perpetrators should not go unpunished; it would soon address the public and petition policy makers on the issue.
But the Nigerian Navy, on Tuesday, attributed the incident to provocation from the victim.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, the Director of Information, Nigerian Navy, Commodore David Naibada, alleged that Okere provoked one of the naval ratings when she stepped out of her car that was in front of the admiral‘s convoy and seized the horsewhip he was holding.
Naibada accused the victim of making up stories to embarrass the admiral ”who incidentally was a junior officer to her father when the duo were in the military school together

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Niger :: Woman wins slavery case against Niger

Niger :: Woman wins slavery case against Niger


A West African regional court of justice convicted the state of Niger on Monday for failing to protect a 12-year-old girl from being sold into slavery in a case anti-slavery campaigners hope will set a precedent.

The regional Ecowas Court of Justice ruled that Niger had failed in its obligations to protect Hadijatou Mani, who says she was sold into slavery in 1996 for around $500 and regularly beaten and sexually abused.

"I am very happy with this decision," Mani, now 24, told reporters at the court. Her comments, in the Hausa language spoken widely in Africa's Sahel region on the southern fringe of the Sahara, were translated by an interpreter.

Mani was at one point jailed for bigamy by Niger's court system when her former master opposed her marriage to another man, insisting she had automatically become his own wife when he set her free in 2005.

The case against the state was brought with the help of British-based anti-slavery organisations as a test case to press African governments to stamp out slavery, which campaigners say is rife in some African countries despite legal more

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vibrant Young Women Convene!

Young Women Leadership Institute Program, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria September 22-27, 2008

Twenty three young feminists from the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria participated in the Young Women’s Leadership Institute whose goal is to develop and enhance the leadership potentials of young women in order for them to aspire and occupy leadership and decision making positions in Nigeria.

The training had the following objectives:
• To create awareness on the relationship between Globalization, Millennium Development Goals and Leadership from a feminist perspective.
• To develop and enhance the leadership potentials of the young women
• To mobilize and mentor the young women into the feminist movement
• To foster the coalition of women’s human rights activists through information sharing and group monitoring
• To establish information sources as a means of monitoring and mentoring the young more

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's not to like about the UN's new rights commissioner?

The world has a new United Nations high commissioner for human rights, a job that comes with built-in controversy. Right at the start, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's choice for the post, Navanethem Pillay, a South African judge now sitting on the International Criminal Court, seems to have caught a lot of people off-guard and provoked some unexpected reactions.

Judge Pillay, 67, is something of a star among international legal experts but was not widely known outside her home country, the UN and the war-crimes tribunals and courts. Beholden to no major human-rights organizations, she was criticized by some in the field for not being "accessible" to that community or not being a more outspoken rights advocate. (She says that was not her role as a judge.) In Washington , where George W. Bush's administration seems to have been prodded into a last-minute scramble to try to derail the appointment, it was discovered that she was — gasp! — a feminist.

However,various reports have indicated that Washington 's concern was that Judge Pillay was the candidate of South African President Thabo Mbeki, and as such, she might share his unwillingness to take a strong position against renegades such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Omar al-Bashir of Sudan . That seems unlikely, given her track record for independence......what is your own opinion on this?
Post comment NOW!!

Friday, July 4, 2008

BAOBAB's Position on the Public Nudity Bill



Over the years, women have suffered untold hardship and disadvantages due to a lack of commitment of government and quality representation in bringing to the fore critical issues affecting them. In appreciating the concerns affecting women in Nigeria, such as the high maternal and infant mortality rate, food and water crisis, poor political representation, harmful traditional practices, domestic violence and unfriendly policies relating to their socio-economic and reproductive functions in the society, the proposed bill trivializes women’s demand for a just society founded on gender equality.


In light of the proposed bill, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights (BAOBAB) has observed with great concern the following:
1. The wide discretionary power given to the Police authority under this bill.
2. The disproportionate level of discrimination the bill will promote to the disadvantage of women.
3. With the rising trend of violence in the society, human insecurity and domestic violence, the bill will create a road map leading to more violations of women’s rights.
4. The bill will impose a subjective moral code in Nigeria, a society that is not homogenous in its values and beliefs.
5. A continuing emphasis placed on presumed public nudity in this bill will lead to justification of criminal behaviours towards women from both state and non-state actors.
6. Considering the socio-economic classification of women based on education, religion, and status, the bill will indiscriminately affect the least empowered.
From a technical perspective, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights (BAOBAB) also observed the following:
1. The ambiguity of certain terms in the bill such as “private part”, “reasonable suspicion”, “sexually seduce”, “indecent dressing” and “public nudity” among others are open to subjective interpretation.
2. The provision on the presumption of guilt as opposed to the presumption of innocence is contrary to natural justice.
3. The fine imposition is devoid of an economic consideration of the financial hardship faced by Nigerians, especially the most susceptible targets of the bill.
4. The issues of presumed public nudity and sexual intimidation are separate and distinct and should not be encompassed within the same bill.
Surprisingly, this bill unconstitutional in nature and seeking to legislate on morality has successfully passed the first and the second hearing on the floor of the Senate. At this point we plead with the distinguished Senators to consider the underlying detrimental effect of this bill and stop its final passage in to law.

BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights expresses its deep concern about the moral and human rights insensibilities of the proposed bill, its unconstitutionalities and the uneconomical channelling of legislative efforts to less important issues in the face of pressing national development and human rights concerns.


1. The Senate should out rightly resist any attempt in compelling Senators to legislate on morality and imposition of a national law on dress code for Nigerians.

2. Legislate with a sense of urgency on thriving national development and human rights issues in relation to alleviating the plight of the masses and vulnerable in the society.

3. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the national constitution, international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Nigeria, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
Recalling, that Nigeria is the incumbent Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Councils, the country must set a standard in its obligatory role in the promotion of human rights commencing with the human rights situation of its citizens.
In the word of Martin Ihoeghian, President of the United Nations Human Rights Council, “the Council's main purpose is to uphold the dignity of the human person through the promotion and protection of human rights…failure to advance the aims and objectives of the Human Rights Council collectively by all nations, all peoples and all institutions will be a colossal failure of humanity to protect its own dignity and rights under the rule of law.”
The World is watching, Africa is expecting and Nigerians are appealing!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ensuring our Rights: Addressing Harmful Sexual Health Practices

BAOBAB For Women’s Human Rights participated in a two day workshop organised for Secondary Schools in Lagos State by Action Health Incorporated. The workshop was part of the preparation for the Teenage Festival of Life that will be held in November, 2008. The topic of the workshop was Ensuring our Rights: Addressing Harmful Sexual Health Practices. The workshop was organised to expose young people to harmful sexual health practices and to enlighten them on their sexual and reproductive health and rights. The workshop was also aimed at equipping the students on how they can use creative art for advocacy against harmful sexual and reproductive health practices. It was also meant to deconstruct gender stereotypes and improve parent-child communication. The students were expected to use the knowledge gained at the workshop to produce poetry, music and drama to be presented at the Teenage Festival of Life in November. The two-day workshop was divided into 12 sessions, 6 sessions per day because of the large population of students from different schools across the state. Josephine Effa-Chukwuma, Executive Director of Project Alert made the first presentation on Harmful Sexual Health Practices. She spoke extensively on harmful sexual health practices and the consequence of such practices.

According to her, women and girls have been socialized to believe that they have to go along with the culture of silence concerning practices such as rape, incest, early marriage, forced marriage, sexual harassment, female genital mutilations and some nutritional taboos. She encouraged the students especially girls and women who are the victims of such practices to begin to speak out so that perpetrators of such acts are brought to book. Speaking further, she elaborated the consequences of harmful sexual health practices. They include among others, unsafe abortion, unwanted pregnancy, Vesico Vagina Fistula (VVF), Sexually Transmitted Infections, Maternal Mortality, death through unsafe abortion, HIV/AIDS, low self esteem from sexual violence especially rape and many others. BAOBAB’s Programme Officer, Folake Kuti made her presentation which was on Adolescents Sexual Health and Rights. She started by asking the students what they know about human rights. She then highlighted international and national legal documents that have specific provisions for adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health and rights especially laws protecting women against harmful sexual health practices. The documents include: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD, 1994), Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Child Rights Act (2003), Beijing Platform for Action (1995), AU Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, National Youth Development Policy, National Population Policy, National Adolescents Reproductive Health Policy, e. t. c.

All the documents stipulates the right to equality and freedom from all forms of discrimination, right to liberty and security of the person – protection of children and girls from sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. The documents also have provisions such as right to privacy- for instance confidentiality of young person’s sexual and reproductive health information, right to freedom of thought and religion. Youths should not be coerced or forced into marriage because of cultural or religious beliefs. Right to information and education on sexual and reproductive health, right to contraception and right to be free from torture and ill-treatment such as sexual exploitation, prostitution, forced marriage and many more. Speaking further, she highlighted that all the documents listed have covered all areas of adolescents’ sexual and reproductive rights and it is there- fore not the absence of laws or policies that is confronting adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health and rights. She explained that apart from the strong hold of culture and religion in perpetuating harmful sexual and reproductive health practices, non-implementation of legal instruments and policies, corruption and lack of accountability, people’s perception of sexuality -adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health matters and illiteracy are serious challenges militating against the awareness and exercise of adolescents sexual and reproductive health and rights. Speaking on how we can ensure our sexual and reproductive rights, she identified five main points which include:

Awareness of our sexual and reproductive rights - having adequate information

Exercising our rights- protecting our rights by demand

Speaking out when our rights are violated- discussing violations with close family members after seeking counsel- reporting violations at the police station and not destroying evidence, also seeking redress in courts.

Sharing valuable information with friends

Women’s active participation in politics – Women and girls should aspire and participate in leadership so that they can be involved in decisions that affect their lives and also influence policies and laws that favour women and girls. She spoke extensively on the way forward which include constant development and review of adolescents’ specific programmes on sexual and reproductive rights education, policy analysis, health budget analysis, awareness on rights abuses and reportage of sexual abuses, continue the advocacy on gender sensitive legal and constitutional reforms, research and documentation.

At the end of the four sessions handled by BAOBAB in the two-day workshop, several questions were asked and it was so pathetic to discover that at least two in five girls or women at the workshop may have suffered sexual abuse especially incest and rape. There was the story of one of the consultants that came to facilitate the creative art session who was sexually abused by her elder brother for many years and because of the culture of silence and intimidation, the same man also had sex with her younger sister several times. According to her, she developed the courage to talk about her ordeal for the first time after listening to the facilitators at the workshop.

A 15 year old girl also wanted to know what her friend who is being sexually molested by her Police Officer father should do. Sadly, the father’s driver who is privy to the situation is also sexually abusing the girl. Most of the questions asked bothered on incest, rape and sexual harassment. At the end of the workshop, It was agreed that urgent steps needed to be taken to address the legal framework on perpetrators of sexual violence especially rapists. Participants at the workshop expressed the need for more workshops to be extended to all schools, mosques and churches. Most of the girls and teachers also wanted to know where they could go when their sexual rights were violated because they don’t trust the police. They were informed about the establishment of human right desks in police stations across the city and the fact that some states have passed into law bills against FGM and on domestic violence. Hence, the police are becoming more aware of women’s human rights issues and the importance of preserving evidence of sexual abuse. Participants were advised to visit BAOBAB, Project Alert, Action Health Incorporated and many other women’s human rights organisations to seek for help when their sexual and reproductive rights are violated.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Young Women's Learning Partnership

Young Women's Learning Partnership (YWLP)

BAOBAB for women’s human rights is a non profit, non governmental organisation that is committed to the promotion and protection of women’s human rights under the three system of law in Nigeria, namely customary, statutory and religious laws. BAOBAB strategy of capacity building has impacted considerably on feminist movement within Nigeria and across the continent of Africa in particular. The organisation’s series of innovative strategies has effectively produce a critical mass of gender aware citizens who are involved at various levels of intervention aimed at promotion and protection, improving knowledge, exercise and development of women’s human rights across the country. Her leadership training programme, gender and human right training, paralegal training has helped to further the appreciation and observance of women’s human rights by women and men in all strata of the society. Considering the unabated violations of women’s human rights and the difficulty in achieving desired change at policy level, BAOBAB opined that a gender aware society with the youth at the centre of the movement for change is the best option for sustainable development with women participating actively in the development process.

As a mentoring organisation with a forward looking agenda, BAOBAB has decided to mobilize young women from a feminist perspective into the women’s movement. This is a succession plan meant to enhance the leadership potentials of young women and also building the generational gaps existing in the women’s movement in Nigeria. The programme is also an avenue to deconstruct some stereotypes that has been limiting women from active participation in the decision making process. Women’s movement started very late in the country and the array of socio-economic malaise confronting the citizens is a serious threat to feminism unless urgent concrete step is taking to mobilise the young women into the women’s movement from a gender perspective.

The overall goal of the programme is to develop and enhance the leadership potentials of the young women in order for them to aspire and occupy leadership and decision making positions in Nigeria.

· To further the awareness of beneficiaries on issues of Globalisation, Millennium Development Goals and leadership from a feminist perspective
· To develop and enhance the leadership potentials of the young women
· To mobilise and mentor the young women into the feminist movement.
· To foster the coalition of women’s human right activists through information sharing and group monitoring.
· Establishment of information source as a means of monitoring and mentoring the young women

The programme shall be a 4-day training comprising of focus group discussions, interactive workshop sessions on globalisation, millennium development goals and leadership, leadership challenges and opportunities, presentations on strategies for creating and sustaining women’s activism and information sharing
The young women leadership training programme will convene thirty (30) young educated women from different backgrounds within the six geo-political zones in Nigeria.

Facilitation will be provided by BAOBAB staff.
In addition to the background documents, BAOBAB will produce a training pamphlet outlining the thematic areas of the young women leadership training from a gender perspective.

Indecent Dressing in Nigeria

What do you think about the proposed Bill on the floor of the National Assembly titled: An Act to Prohibit and Punish Public Nudity, Sexual Intimidation and Related Offences by Senator Eme Ekaette, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women and Youth.The bill has generated much uproar in the land with more dissenting voices from the masses.

Please give us your opinion on indecent dressing......