On 3 February 2015, ASHA Empowerment and Development Initiative in collaboration with The Real Woman Foundation organized a community public lecture and outreach in Ajegunle, an urban slum in Lagos, Nigeria.
This outreach was geared towards sensitizing the women and girls in the community on STDs, HIV/AIDS, their reproductive and Sexual Rights, Personal hygiene, Etiquette, Power of Choice as it pertains to their body, Sexual Abuse, Love/sex and dating and the role of governance in ensuring that each woman and girl gets the needed support and protection due her under the law.
While engaging the audience of over 200 women and girls in attendance, speakers from The Real Woman Foundation covered topics from the “For Girls Only” curriculum such as: STD’s, Personal Hygiene, Power of Choice, Sexual Abuse and Molestation, Love/sex and dating.
More and more teenage girls are sexually active, without fully understanding the consequences of these actions, vis-à-vis, pregnancy, STDs/HIV/AIDS, emotional/psychological trauma and school dropout, they admonished.
“For Girls Only” is an outreach originally designed for senior secondary school girls in schools across Lagos. Ajegunle is the first community they have visited since its inception in 2006.
Ms. Vweta Chadwick, ASHA’s Global Programmes Director spoke on the Role of governance in promoting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in the grassroots, she harped on the need for all women, 18 and above to exercise their constitutional right and civic duty by voting for candidates who would ensure that these issues are on the front burners of national debates.
“There is a reason we are here today and that is because politics and governance affects our very lives and life outcomes especially as it relates to our sexual and reproductive health.
From anti abortion laws irrespective of extenuating circumstances to disabled women friendly maternal centres and services, from women’s choices of contraceptives to teenage mother’s education friendly legislature, governance dictates our day-to-day existence and that is reason enough to start a discourse, to be involved.” She said.
She also encouraged more women to actively participate in governance at all levels, ensuring that they are part of the positive difference they seek.
She continues: “Who says we are not capable? The most basic and most intricate unit of every society, every civilization is the family and its no secret that we have been running the family for centuries now. We can transfer that same knowledge to public service, making decisions and choices that shows respect and dignity for human lives, recognizing men as our allies – as team mates and crowd sourcing their wisdom.
…though running a kitchen or a nuclear family for that matter is never the same as running a state, one plagued with so many issues as Nigeria, we – women are geniuses when it comes to adaptation. We learn fast, we are resilient under pressure, as one of my mentors say “Women are rocks…” hardships brings out the best in us, we do not cower or buckle. We can hold our own.”
She closed with a call for all women to think education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, maternal healthcare, power, security, infrastructure, economic empowerment and financial independence as they cast their votes. Most importantly, she asked all women to look inward and see how they can begin to bring about the positive change they wish to see in the country – in the world, starting right here.