Photo from left to right: Blessing Ejeh, PO HWD, Esther Akoh Assistant Director of Public enlightenment and Mass Mobilization Department, NOA, Blessing Sani, CO HWD, Adetutu Oshagbami, FO HWD and Oby Kechere Head of Community Theatre NOA.
The HWD team went on an advocacy visit to National Orientation Agency to discuss on our research findings on Career Barriers and Workplace Sexual Harassment Against Young Women in Nigeria, a project Supported by Ford Foundation. The HWD team met with Mrs. Esther Akoh, an Assistant Director of Public Enlightenment and Mass Mobilization Department, National Orientation Agency and her colleagues.
Mrs. Akoh mentioned that they have in the past collaborated with some NGOs concerning Sexual Harassment and appreciated HWDs efforts.
She raised four major factors to put in place towards tackling the menace of sexual harassment at the workplace and they include;
1. Workplace Advocacy. She made mentioned that there should be advocacy meetings held in organizations to discuss sexual harassment and what to do when it happens. The place of speaking out and tackling the issues of Sexual Harassment.
2. Stakeholders Forum. Mrs. Esther went further to say that the stakeholders’ forum is beyond creating awareness for people to speak out. She said, many people do not know that there are laws against sexual harassment in Nigeria.
She pointed out that speaking out is the major thing for victims to do as it is in speaking out that help can come. She enumerated also that agencies like the labour union have a part to play as stakeholders.
Speaking further she stated that victimization is a major result of Sexual Harassment and this should be addressed by the Human Resource department in organizations. She spoke from both private and public sector perspectives, spelling out the risks involved in speaking out. Many ladies have lost their jobs in private organizations from speaking out while others face other challenges in the public sector. Therefore, enforcers should be put in place to seek redress in case of any of these.
One of the team members from NOA said that, when mapping stakeholders, one must know that it needs legal backing from agencies like FIDA and the likes. He went further to say that there should be an avenue to fight for one’s right because if there is no justice, there won’t be victory. Also, there should be an avenue for redress in case of sack or victimization.
3. Media Advocacy. Mrs. Esther went further to say that the media has a major role to play in all of these. Mrs. Oby Kechere said that scripts for soap operas and series can be created to be aired on TV and radio stations to create awareness of Sexual Harassment in workplaces and in the society at large.
4. School-based Campaigns. It was mentioned that campaigns in schools should be carried out to prepare and strategize students and even some members of the staff who happen to be young women. Some of these secondary school and university girls work while schooling or work immediately after high school so it will be wise to educate them beforehand.
FO HWD asked how these policies against Sexual Harassment can be enforced and Mrs. Esther responded by saying that the security personnel has been saddled with the responsibility of enforcing these policies.
The meeting ended with words of appreciation from the HWD and NOA team with some photos taken to wrap the session.
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