Happy Fourth of July! I was going to write something patriotic about social media, but I got an email from Mari Tikkanen with story about her recent experience working with maternal/reproductive health organizations and human rights NGOs in Nigeria for the MacArthur Foundation.
Mari mentioned in an email was that one of the women in this workshop was a lawyer, who heads up WRAPA (Women’s Rights and Protection Alternative) and LACVAW, a coalition of 70 orgs working on rights issues (see below). This workshop participant had never used social media, but was open to learning and asked many great questions.
Says Mari, “She was very sharp and immediately understood and saw the potential. She approached me after the training, with a leaflet in hand. It was an one pager, stating violence in Nigeria facts and showing very graphic photos of victims of violence. This was their advocacy material for communicating the urgency of a Bill against violence against persons in Nigeria. I silently stared at the photos while she also dug out from her phone a photo of a woman who had been gang raped and ripped up from her navel to her back. She said this was all the material they had and that now they had also been told they were not allowed to show that photo, that it was distasteful. She said that she now sees that social media and online efforts could be very effective in raising awareness of the Bill.”
According to Mari’s email, this coalition had worked for 10 years to get a comprehensive Bill passed by National Assembly legislators which criminalizes sexual and physical violence against women and girls, and that it had been rejected/failed to pass twice, both in 2010, and again in 2011. The coalition then undertook a process to harmonized several laws in to a Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (the ‘persons’ term making it less “controversial”), which is being processed by the National Assembly next week (6 July). They have 5 legislators on board and need 120 for the Bill to pass.
Says Mari, “I wanted to help in any way I could and offered to support the mobilizing public support for the Bill in Nigeria and globally through social media, and in raising awareness of the extent of violence against women/persons in Nigeria. We have had very little resources and time ( one week to develop on top of a terrible workload!) but have built the campaign site and online/social media sharing mechanism, as well as a ‘My Nigerian Family Album’ board on Pinterest. We needed to take in to account that many of LACVAWs members are not in social media while also recognizing that there are several million social media users in Nigeria.. LACVAW also hope to raise global awareness. We don’t also of course have any seeding or media resources, and so we are turning to everyone we know who cares about women’s and human rights.”
Here the site: www.nigeriacountdown.com