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An Unspoken Menace – Sexual Harassment in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions

Sexual harassment OAU

In 2002, Nigerian rapper Eedris Abdulkareem released the hit single Mr Lecturer, which was a widely accepted among the Nigerian populace. In the video, Eedris plays a lecturer at a university who asks a female student named Bimbo to come and see him in his office after class. There he tells her, ‘You failed my test, you failed exams; if you want to pass, you know what to do.’

The song portrays a common scenario in Nigerian tertiary institutions, where lecturers regularly single out female students and demand that they sleep with them or risk failing their exams, or in order to change their grades in courses they have failed. Students who refuse to compromise may graduate with terrible grades, or be forced to drop out. Lecturers will harass students until they give in to their demands, and in some cases a group of lecturers will gang up against a student to break her resolve.

The sexual harassment of female students by lecturers, non-academic staff and even male students has always been an issue in Nigerian universities. However, after a series of highly public incidents some universities are beginning to wake up to the problem

Most recently is the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) sex for grades scandal. The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), commends the Institution (OAU) on its recent action of dismissal of its lecturer, Professor Richard Akindele, who was found guilty of Sexual Harassment.

The Governing Council of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) has dismissed Professor Richard Akindele from the services of the University for gross misconduct – an official press release read.

Vice Chancellor of OAU, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, disclosed this to reporters after the meeting of the Council on Wednesday in Ile Ife, Osun State. He revealed that the Council, after its findings, concluded that Professor Akindele had an inappropriate relationship with one of his students, Miss Monica Osagie, a claim to which he admitted.The Council also discovered that the don had offered to change Osagie’s 33 per cent result to a pass mark, in consideration for sexual favours. According to the vice chancellor, this was established in an audio recording that went viral in early April which Akindele also admitted to.

He informed journalists that from the evidence, Miss Osagie had no idea that she scored 45 per cent pass mark as claimed by the erring professor, although the student later found out she did not fail the course.

Professor Ogunbodede noted that the Council, from all findings, found out that Professor Akindele operated in a position of power and authority over Miss Osagie and as such sexually harassed her.

He added that Professor Akindele was found to be liable for all allegations of misconduct levelled against him with all the evidence at the Council’s disposal.

The VC pointed out that this led to the dismissal of the academic from the services of the university, to serve as a deterrent to others.

He disclosed further that the university has taken further steps to ensure total elimination of sexual harassment in the OAU community.

According to Ogunbodede, the institution has a legal duty to prevent sexual and gender-based harassment within the school and to ensure that both men and women are protected from the menace.

To achieve this, he said the university has put a strategic implementation framework for sexual harassment policy in place.

The vice chancellor explained that this would ensure effective and rapid redress mechanisms to incidents of sexual harassment, just as a whistle-blower policy is also being developed by the university.

WRAPA lauds OAU for its discipline and tenacity in curbing Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), which includes Sexual Harassment and implores all other institutions to function within these standards.

 

News Credit: The Citizen Online 

WRAPA attends Zonal Workshop on Enhancing Women’s Participation in the continuous voter registration and collection of permanent voter cards (PVC) by INEC

INEC workshop

The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), was in attendance at a Zonal Workshop on Enhancing Women’s Participation in the continuous voter registration and collection of permanent voter cards (PVC), themed: The Role of Civil Society Organizations, North Central Geo-Political Zone- Abuja.

The workshop was put together by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), with the support of the European Union (EU) and the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and took place on the 20th June, 2018. Also in attendance were, other relevant NGOs and CSOs as well as media organizations.

In recognizing women’s rights as human rights, INEC commits to providing a level playing field for all stakeholders in the delivery of free, fair and credible elections to ensure the participation of for inclusive election.Thus the Commission has stepped up Voter Education activities with emphasis on increasing women participation in the electoral process mostly through sensitization programmes. For voters, especially women to participate effectively; they need to be familiar with the requirements and importance of being on the voter register. In this light, and to sustain the gains so far made, the Commission,  which has already carried out workshops in five zones of the country on enhancing participation of women in the Continuous Voter Registration, put together this workshop in Abuja being the final and last zone.

The purpose of this workshop was to to encourage more women to register and collect their PVCs in readiness for the 2019 General Elections and beyond, to sensitize women on their rights and the power of their votes to make a difference in elections. Also, by registering to vote, more women will participate in the electoral process which is important for democracy to thrive in Nigeria.

The North- Central Zone (comprising of FCT, Kaduna, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau) workshop in Abuja, provided INEC the opportunity to engage relevant stakeholders on the need for women to register as voters to enable them participate in the electoral process.

By putting together this workshop, the Commission is also fulfilling its mandate to ensure Women’s participation in political process in the global development agenda as embodied in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal No 5 in particular which enjoins all member states to ensure women’s full effective participation and provide equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.

There were over one hundred (100) participants in attendance at the workshop comprising of CSOs and the Media. Through Presentations and interactive discussions, participants were informed and equipped with the necessary knowledge to enable them encourage more women in their states to register and collect their PVCs in readiness for the 2019 General Election.

At this workshop, the INEC Voter Registration and ICT Departments educated participants with a Step by Step Guide on the CVR Exercise. Key points raised at the workshop included ;

  • The fact that Some NGOs, CSOs and Women Radio programs have started working on mobilizing women to partake in the CVR exercise.
  • Mentorship and networking is very important – lots of women that get elected do not carry along other women especially the young ones.
  • Traditional and New Social Media to be fully utilized to spread the word.
  • Women should start seeking for election from the grassroot upwards not from the top.
  • For visibility, women need to use the media extensively. The men are always ready to come on Radio or TV Programmes while women give excuses not to appear or are always in a hurry to leave. They need to engage with all media channels/platforms to assist women voices.
  • All stakeholders need to embark on aggressive advocacy campaign to media houses and target women in strategic positions in their states.
  • Target women in power to come out and sponsor aspirants, jingles and women talk shows to amplifier women voices.
  • Women Agenda has to be demanded in every aspect especially by Women Radio/TV Producers and Presenters.

INEC will proceed work on the recommendations and key issues raised at this workshop, while participants will go back to their states and utilize knowledge acquired to encourage more women in their states to register and collect their PVCs in readiness for the 2019 General Election.

WRAPA attends Workshop aimed at Enhancing Civil-Military Relations between the Nigerian Army and the Civil Society.

All participants at enhancing civil-miltary relations at NARC

The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), was in attendance at a workshop titled: Enhanced Civil-Military Relations between the Nigerian Army and the Civil Society, organized by the Nigerian Army through its Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), establishment.

The Armed Forces of Nigeria was established and saddled with the constitutional responsibility to protect the Nigerian sovereignty against external aggression, safeguard and maintain the territorial integrity as well as secure her borders in addition to suppressing insurrection. These are noble and sacrificial responsibilities, which ought to attract certain immunities and privileges as a way of appreciating the men and women who voluntarily joined the Armed Forces to lay down their lives for our collective national security, unity and survival. However, the Nigerian Military perceives that their reputation is always undermined by negative actions/reactions from the Civil Society which underscores an inherent public resentment towards them and their personnel, in direct contract to respect, immunities and privileges that should be granted the Armed Forces. The Nigerian Army also understands that the Civil Society has been misguided in more recent times by their actions through poor media reportage. Thus there is an existence of mutual suspicion between the Military and Civil Society which has caused collateral damage and further collapsed the Civil-Military relation and all benefits that come with it. Hence the reason for this workshop.

This workshop was held with an aim to strengthen the civil-military relations between the Nigerian Military and Civil Society. In attendance were 100 participants; 50 from the Military and 50 from the civil society of which the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, US Army, NIPSS, CISLAC, Cleen Foundation, Action Aid and NARC were all represented.

The essence of this workshop was to create a platform for mutual understanding between organized civil society and the NA establishment, to initiate a process of sustained campaign to positively project the Nigerian Army as the state instrument to defend the civil populace against external aggression, maintain territorial integrity and suppress insurrection, to project the civil ownership of the NA and its subordination to the democratically elected government who must in turn protect them from undue harassment and intimidation from misguided elements of the society like is done in the world over including the USA, UK, France and others, to articulate various activities within the NA that may have added value to the country’s scientific and technological development, to undertake a comparative analysis of the Civil-Military relations in the USA and UK, to establish a formal civil society network for the civil military relations in collaboration with the AHQ DCMA, reiterating the fact that anti-military sentiments might endanger national security and the country’s territorial integrity.

The workshop lasted 3 days, from 20th June 2018 – 22nd June 2018. It featured lectures and presentations from resource persons as well as interactive sessions between the participants. The interactive sessions brought many issues to light which included the issues of; military abuse of power, maltreatment of civilians, poor media reportage of the Nigerian military and its activities, unseen/unappreciated efforts of the military in humanitarian assistance, the need for training and re-training of the military rank and file, the misconception of the Civil Society and its mode of operation, the need for better communication and media engagement of the military among other topics.

At the end of the workshop, all participants had an improved public perception of the roles of the Nigerian Army and an enhanced understanding of the need for national support for the Nigerian Army to be able to defend the country against external aggression and domestic insurrection. All participating organizations were awakened to establish knowledge pool on how best to promote civil-military relations on sustainable basis. The Nigerian Military also improved their understanding of the mode of operation and work of the CSO in nation building and development.

The Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), will be informed by the communique developed from this workshop in convening another session which would feature the media arm of Nigeria as a component of the civil society and a key actor in fostering the civil-military relations. The Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC) in collaboration with participating organizations will also effectively take steps towards the establishment of the Civil Society Network on National Security.

 

 

WRAPA partakes in Summit aimed at achieving a ‘Better Workplace and Environment for Women’ in Nairobi, Kenya on the wings of Equality Now, World Bank and World Policy.

Meeting on improving workplace for women nairobi kenya

The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), alongside other CSOs from across Africa convened in Nairobi, Kenya on the wings of Equality Now, World Policy and World Bank for a summit titled A better Workplace and Environment for Women: Achieving the SDGs, Law and Policy Commitments in Africa.

Ensuring women have equal opportunities in the workplace matters for individual women, families, and entire economies. Yet for too many women, sexual harassment and gender discrimination at work, including in laws and policies, continue to impose barriers to full participation in the labor force. These gaps need to be addressed for governments to ensure women and girls realize their rights and to achieve the SDGs with leading women’s organizations across Africa advancing critical work in this area, hence the reason for this summit. Equality Now’s Africa Regional Office, and the WORLD Policy Analysis Center (WORLD),in collaboration with  the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law project, convened this summit in Nairobi, on “A Better Workplace and Environment for Women: Achieving the SDGs, Law and Policy Commitments in Africa”.

The aim of this summit was to improve workplace and environmental conditions for women, this was done by providing organizations with a comparative view of how their laws compare to that of similar countries, as well as gaps relative to international and regional agreements, best practices on gender-based workplace discrimination and sexual harassment; training organizations to advocate for reform on these issues using the SDGs and Maputo Protocol and proffering solutions to the problem of workplace sexual harassment. It was a collaborative capacity building and knowledge exchange workshop, with insightful conversations and contributions from all attendees from different African countries which lasted 4 days, from 28th May 2018 – 31st May 2018.

 

Opportunities were explored, that supported the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol), to address legislative gaps, implement laws that do exist, and build grassroots advocacy campaigns. Partners had the opportunity to learn from new global research, share insights, success stories and challenges, highlight areas for future work, and propose advocacy campaigns for law reform and implementation.

At the end of this 4-day summit, approximately 14 partners from 12 countries across Africa, that work on women’s rights and discrimination were trained, to equip them with the necessary skills, knowledge and resources to enable them carry out the law reform and implementation campaigns in their countries and ensure women know and claim their rights. Organizations that are interested in carrying out national level campaigns on law reform related to sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace were identified, and will be supported by Equality Now to map out intervention and change pathways, with the aim of supporting national campaigns on law reform, with regard to sexual harassment and/or discrimination in the workplace using the SDGs, the Maputo Protocol as well international law.

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