Thursday, December 3, 2009

16 Days of Activism - "Men Walk" on 2nd December 2009

As part of its campaign to mark the 2009 “16 Days against Gender Based Violence” campaign, the BAOBAB team with its network of “Men against Violence against Women” in the lead, took the advocacy to the streets! While in a particular popular area of Lagos known for its busy commercial bus activities-called ‘Oshodi’, the team shared anti-gender based violence messages with the crowd – heightened with the aid of their traditional talking drums! ‘Ohhh’ was the almost unsaid expression on their faces as they appreciated the fact that men are now in the fore-front of advocating the end of violence against women. And…guess what? The BAOBAB led network of men ran out of the IEC anti gender-based materials as the demand for them was so overwhelming! However, this ‘minor crisis’ of IEC material shortage did not deter the team, who carried on with their verbal messages and talking drums. The team captured some of the comments by the men on the streets:

“I believe women also have rights. Men should give their wives respect and their rights should be given to them”

“A sensible man should know that he must take good care of his wife.”

“There must be love between a man and a woman, love is an accord anchored in man and woman before becoming one as a union. Love is essential. If my wife upsets me, first thing to do is to calm down. Even the bible says “both of you are helpmates, so one is not a slave for another. I believe my wife is my sister and if she did something wrong, I should be able to correct her not beat her.”

But –someone else thinks differently:

“No no no no, I don't agree with you people. What if a woman slaps me, I'm talking from experience. No no no, I don't agree with you people... (he started narrating a story)

The team on the street observed that women were highly appreciative of the fact that men were committed to ending violence against women. Then -there was the Drama! The street theatre was very strategic and enabled the public to engage directly in a conversation on issues highlighted –such as sexual harassment of girls by Commercial bus drivers (hmm-that rang a bell with most), as well as domestic violence and other forms of violence. It was also a great opportunity for the BAOBAB team to inform and/or remind the public that, Hei -“We now have a law against Domestic Violence in Lagos State and any perpetrator will be punished!” View the photos of the campaign below!

16 Days of Activism - Press Briefing on 25th November 2009

As part of the activities to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights hosted twelve (12) journalists from the print and electronic media to a press briefing on the 25th of November 2009.

The Executive Director of BAOBAB informed the media personnel present that gender based violence has been a cause for concern, not only in Nigeria but across the world which of course can be attributed to the patriarchal notion of control tied to various cultural beliefs that has given rise to the systemic discrimination against women in private and public spheres. She further mentioned that the manifestations of these practices include deeply rooted obnoxious cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), widowhood rites, and early and/or forced marriages amongst others thereby making Gender Based Violence to be one of the most heinous and prevalent cause of human rights abuses in the world, and is a threat to all women no matter their class or status, and an obstacle to all human efforts for development, peace and gender equality in all societies.

The agenda for the day also had a 30 minutes documentary shown to the journalists on cases of violence against women and BAOBAB’s work and intervention to that effect. The documentary showcased true stories and cases of different forms of violence against women in Nigeria. It featured some important highlights of the Mock Tribunal on Violence Against Women BAOBAB did in year 2001 in Abuja.

This medium was used to call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to act as a matter of urgency to domesticate and implement the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which it signed and ratified without reservation in 1985 as part of Nigerian national laws. She emphasized that having laws that protect women from violence is a strategic step towards reducing the occurrence of Gender Based Violence and according women their rightful place in the development of Nigeria as a great nation.

The choice of the press briefing as part of activities to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence was also to sensitise media personnel on how they report cases of women’s human rights. Journalists were implored to report cases of gender based violence and women’s human rights issues from a gender perspective as it is evident that their thoughts to a great extent affect the way they report. BAOBAB stands by its belief that there is never any reason to inflict violence against women and adopts a zero tolerance attitude to Gender Based Violence.