Why We Must Embrace the HeForShe Culture – Olusegun Olagunju

Hamzat Lawal June 16, 2017 124

L-R Hamzat Bala Lawal, Senator Jummai Alhassan

Ever imagined the world where there wouldn’t be differences within the gender grouping? Ever wished your female children are accorded same respect as given to the male folks out there?


These drove the challenge for the HeForShe campaign that was created by UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and empowerment of women, HeForShe is a global effort to engage men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential, enlisting men and boys as equal partners in the responsible crafting and implementing of a shared vision of gender equality, with norms of gender equality, non-violence and respect, and thus together positively reshaping society.

Purely the fundamental objectives of HeForShe campaign are to change discriminatory behaviours, through building awareness of the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment and the crucial role men can play in their own lives, and at more structural levels in their communities, to end the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally.

HeForShe also provides a platform for men and boys to become advocates for women and girls, and to behave accordingly, telling their stories to the global community about the actions they are taking to end inequality.

There are mixed feelings in the acceptance of this cause but to know if this call for change is necessary, we need to have had a fair knowledge of how gender-inequality wrecks the society.
Research estimates suggest that, on the current trajectory, gender equality would not be achieved until 2095. With men and boys at the table and engaged in the issue, we believe that we can more than double the Speed of change.

Can we then fold our arms and anticipate 2095 without acting as fast as we can and allow this unhealthy phase continue in this devastating form?

In this light, an event was hosted by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development at the International Conference Centre for officially and Nationally Launch this HeForShe campaign in Nigeria to sensitize the National mind-set of the need to act now for a gender equal world.

Present at the event were notable figures, the Vice President of Nigeria; Professor Yemi  Osinbajo, The Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development; Senator Aisha Jummai AlHassan and Phyllis Nwokedi; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

The Ministry channels visibly took all present around what we stand to enjoy as this campaign kicks off. It was relayed that the Ministry’s ambitious aim is to secure the commitment of one billion men to make changes in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Those changes may range from small steps – acknowledging the issue and recognizing that the status quo is acceptable to big steps that directly make changes to individual or community lives.

Hamzat Lawal; The Chief Executive of Connected Development, an organization that has done well in ensuring that marginalized people and sect are empowered and have their voices amplified was also present at the event and gave a direct speech on the focus and his stance on gender equality and parity.

He said “Although we have come a long way from a century ago regarding the rights of women and girls, there is room for improvement. According to UN Women, gender equality is defined as “equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys”.

For long, the attention and the pressure have fallen only on women to be the ones who should believe in gender equality. This is wrong. Both men and women should play an active role in ensuring equality between the sexes. As the popular Nigerian Author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says- “we should all be feminists”! This creed should be passed on to our future generations.

He further enthused “I am happy to be a young man who truly believes in gender equality. In my organization, 70% of my workforce is women.  As of 2016, my organization – CODE has directly impacted 26,811 rural lives, especially those of women and children in ensuring that educational and health care appropriations meant for them are well spent through our “Follow The Money” campaigns.
“However, this is not enough. As an Activist, I strongly believe that now is the time to stand up on our tiptoes, extend our arms to the sky, and confess to the world that we are sick of our women and girls missing out of school, and being victims of conflict and domestic violence.”Lastly, Lawal pointed out that “My greatest dream is that one day, I’ll have a little daughter and a son of my own. When my son asks me what it means to be a man, and when my daughter asks me what it means to be a woman, I should be able to tell them one similar thing- “Boys and Girls are equal!

“I implore our youth to join the HeforShe campaign by standing with women and girls around the world who deserve access to education, healthcare, water, and sanitation, as well as decent work.  As a great country, we could lead Africa in achieving the sustainable development goals.”

It is anticipated that out of the signatories to HeForShe, half will take the initial step of joining the solidarity campaign by making a simple positive pledge for gender equality. It is also projected that another quarter may make the pledge and then be inspired to become more engaged by taking a second step-to donate, to advocate and to sensitize themselves to gender equality issues. And a final quarter may deepen their engagement by making and following through on a major commitment that substantially contributes to social change.

 Every story of a champion making a difference has the potential to inspire others to become more engaged. Each man who takes a new action helps all of the humanity to take an additional step towards gender equality.

I advise you to Take Action Now for a Gender – Equal World.

Olusegun is the Social Media Strategist for Connected Development & FollowTheMoney. He’s a Social commentator and Social Media expert.

The Reprehensible State of Healthcare Provision in Nigeria and World Bank’s USD$55.5 billion to the Federal Government

Chambers Umezulike January 13, 2017 1

Healthcare promotion is critical in building human capabilities and realizing economic development. The United Nations emphasizes that poor health status can negatively affect a person’s ability to learn at school and the level of productivity. Life expectancy in Nigeria as at 2016 is currently at 54 years, placing the country on 177th position out of 183 countries. This showcases that Nigeria is currently having deep challenges in the health sector. The Nigerian healthcare has continuously faced challenges such as the shortage of doctors, as a result of brain drain. In addition, Nigerians are also amongst the most traveled in the world for medical tourism because of lack of extensive medical equipment, and lack of medical practitioners for grave health issues.

The set of Nigerians mostly affected by the poor healthcare provision in the country are rural community members whose only option is the dilapidated Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) across the country. In our experience in assessing capital funds implementation in PHCs in rural communities, we observed that most of them lack water supply, electricity, security, functioning toilets, functioning wards, shortage of drugs & human resource, as well as non-availability of medical doctors.

Statistics such as this explains why under 5 mortality rate in Nigeria is at 90/1,000 births as at 2013. And why according to the United Nations Children Emergency Fund, every single day, Nigeria loses approximately 145 women of child bearing age and 2,300 under-five year old. This makes the country the second largest contributor to the maternal mortality and under–five rate in the world. Similarly, malnutrition has been considered at the underlying cause of mortality of a large proportion of children under-5 in the country. At the same time, a woman’s chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria is 1 in 13 from predominantly preventable causes.

Following this cheerless trend and as a counter measure, the World Bank alongside the Federal Government of Nigeria initiated the Saving One Million Lives Initiative Program-for-Results (PforR) Project for Nigeria. The project is for improvements in reproductive, child health, and nutrition outcome, through the provision of vaccines for children, training of skilled birth attendants etc. Through the project, in 2016, the World Bank announced the provision of USD$55.5 million (NGN 17.4 billion) to the Federal Government. The Federal Government would then distribute the fund at USD$1.5 million (NGN 471 million) to each of the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

On receiving this news, the Follow The Money Team of CODE immediately started tracking the employment of the fund across PHCs in Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Kano, Kogi, Osun and Yobe States. We wrote to the concerned governmental agencies and persons (Governors and Commissioners of Health) in these states for their costed work plan for the fund’s implementation, whose provision was a proviso to be eligible for the fund. We observed several ambiguities, kerfuffle, secrecy and anomalous reports on the receipt of the funds, with many of the states saying that they haven’t gotten the fund. States such as all the aforementioned except Yobe also could not provide us with their costed work plan for efficient tracking of the fund.

Just 3 days ago, while the President went to Kuchingoro, Abuja to commission a PHC, he announced that the USD$1.5 million has been released to all the states and the FCT. We receive this with happiness as it has solved the information crisis over the fund release and would reinforce our campaign for the states to give us the costed work plan to ensure transparency and accountability in the usage of the fund.

Following this development, we call on the governors and concerned institutions of Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Kano, Kogi and Osun States to provide us with their costed work plan. We also call for transparency and accountability in the implementation of this fund.

Chambers Umezulike is a Program Officer at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

Breaking The Corruption Chain

Hamzat Lawal December 15, 2015 0

SDG Goal 1 - No Poverty

SDG Goal 1 – No Poverty

The 9th of December of every year since 2005 is set aside by the United Nations [UN] as the “International Anti-Corruption” day as adopted by the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime [UNODC].

This year’s theme is ‘Break The Corruption Chain’ already being popularised on social media using the campaign #breakthechain. The aim of this campaign is to show the cross-cutting and impact corruption has on all aspects of human endeavour and sustainable development for the planet.

Official Logo for #breakthechain Campaign

Official Logo for #breakthechain Campaign

Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon in his message said that the 2030 agenda for sustainable development looking at GOAL 16, recognizes the need to fight corruption in all its aspects and calls for significant reductions in illicit financial flows as well as for recovery of stolen assets.

Back home, in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, Connected Development joined fellow CSOs, key government stakeholders and the international community to mark the Anti-Corruption Day by being part of an anti-corruption seminar convened by Centre for Social Justice with Stop Impunity Nigeria, Say No Campaign, Transparency Nigeria and Zero Corruption Coalition in close cooperation with the Presidential Advisory Committee [PAC] on Anti-Corruption and funded by the European Union under the ‘Project on Support to Anti-Corruption in Nigeria’.

In his welcome address, Myani Bukar, representing Professor Bolaji Owasanoye of the PAC explained the mandate and role of the PAC while encouraging the continuous participation of CSOs in the fight against corruption’; meanwhile the rep for the Country Director of the United Nations Development Program [UNDP], Pa Lamin Beyai, noted that the adopted Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] which were crafted in far more consultative manner that the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs], has shown the importance of good governance and accountability as enshrined in GOALS 7- 11.

Corruption in Nigera is a story that needs no introduction, the current administration of President Buhari defines corruption as the greatest form of human right injustice. Many people believe that oil boom and the dismal dispensation of duties administration by public officers has supported the rise of corruption. Other factors such as greed, nepotism and an ostentatious lifestyle have also supported corruption.

One of the highlights of the seminar was the presentation of a ‘vox populi’ video which touched on key topics surrounding corruption. Panels were held as well on corruption practices in Nigeria and how CSOs, Faith-based organisations and other associations to share insights on fighting the scourge of corrupt practices and fortifying anti-corruption chains through cooperation.

Some of the recommendations offered the CSO reps included increasing capacity building for CSOs on understanding the instruments that support enabling acts such as the FOI act, building better knowledge bases for affairs on key MDAs that some CSOs have their work centered around, in addition, CSO workers should be courageous in speaking up on matters beyond the National level and look at both State and Local levels. Finally, Citizens were encouraged to see governance as their responsibility, given that it was in pursuance of their civic rights that our leaders are now in power.

CODE, through its Follow The Money initiative breaks the corruption chain by ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation of funds [international aid or government spending] intended for local communities.