At a symposium in Yaba recently organized by WARIF (Women at Risk International Foundation), students from different tertiary institutions in Lagos spoke about campus sexual violence and the strides being taken to tackle this menace.
The Women at Risk International Foundation, WARIF is the NGO that organized this event following the successful completion of the first ever virtual online classroom training program on the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Nigeria.
This program is in partnership is with the joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative -a global multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of sexual and gender-based violence against women through various implementation programs and partners all over the world. The Initiative represents an unprecedented global effort to invest in gender equality and women’s empowerment as a precondition and driver for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The project which was launched in January 2020 with an aim to increase the awareness of gender based violence and to design and adopt school related gender based violence policies in tertiary institutions. Following the high and increasing rate of sexual violence and harassment in these institutions; it was necessary to implement a program such as this to break the culture of silence, offer solutions and ensure the overall reduction of these cases.
The revolutionary online training program involved over 3000 university students from 163 institutions across Nigeria. These participating students will now go on to cascade the knowledge learnt and also implement different awareness programs and activities in their various schools and communities as advocates and ambassadors.
Speaking on the prevalence of campus sexual violence in tertiary institutions and the partnership with WARIF; Ms. Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS stated that “Breaking the silence on sex for grades, and exposing the magnitude of the issue, is the first step to ending sexual harassment and violence in tertiary education institutions. We need laws and policies, both at the level of the institutions themselves and at the national level. As UN Women, along with our partner UN agencies, we remain committed to supporting the government and people of Nigeria to end sexual harassment in tertiary education institutions, and all forms of violence against women and girls”.
Founder of WARIF, Dr. Kemi DaSilva- Ibru also stated on this partnership “ WARIF is proud to partner with the UN and the EU on the Spotlight Initiative to reduce the prevalence of gender based violence in our tertiary institutions by working directly with the student based organizations and the school authorities in adopting strategies and facilitating mechanisms that will provide the much needed support and safety to all students on campuses across the Country.”
One of the students who attended the training, Adebayo Olalekan Martin-Rita – a 300level student of Philosophy at the University of Lagos stated that she enrolled for the program to learn how to change the narrative on molestation and rape. The training shaped her views and gave her more insight into the prevention of GBV and how to tackle gender based violence.
Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) is a non-profit organization founded in 2016 by Dr Kemi DaSilva Ibru MD;MPH in response to the high incidence of sexual assault, rape and human trafficking occurring amongst young girls and women across Nigeria. The Foundation was established to raise awareness and address the prevalence of this problem through the “WARIF Approach” – a unique holistic method of tackling Gender Based Violence through the development and implementation of a series of initiatives, targeting both the intervention/treatment of these affected women, as well as providing preventive measures in education and community service to reduce the high incidence.