Ms Omowumi Ogunrotimi, Executive Director, Gender Mobile Initiative (GMI), an NGO, has called for intervention and synthesised effort by government and private individuals to tackle rising cases of sexual harassment, especially in institutions of learning.
Ogunrotimi made the call at the inauguration of the ‘Sexual Assault Prevention and Consent Education Module’ to serve as one of the organisation’s proactive steps at tackling the menace.
The event which held virtually, was organised and supported by Ford Foundation, to expose participants to learnings which would transform into actionable steps.
“We consider this an evolutionary approach to driving systems change because normative and cultural shifts are fundamentally critical to achieving systems change,” she said.
According to Ogunrotimi, it is expected that institutions will adopt the module, and the consistent use of it will enable peoples attitude to move from one that facilitates rape, to the one that promotes consent.
“This module was developed in partnership with institutions of higher learning and I am excited about the commitment of institutions to institutionalise this module.
“We consider this an evolutionary approach to driving systems change because normative and cultural shifts are fundamentally critical to achieving systems change.
“This, we believe, is achievable through consistent education that will transform prevailing adverse norms.
“We are building a winning coalition that has the potential to catalytically transform other parts of the system.
“We thank our partners, BIGIF, WRAPA, Yaradua Foundation, ICPC, NFSAN, FUOYE and the groupings of young people who are using their authentic voices to speak against sexual harassment,” Ogunrotimi said.
Mr Iseoluwa Akintunde, who reviewed the module said it was time issues of sexual harassment was put in the front burner of government’s activities and also school curriculum.
Akintunde said there was a global movement of outright prohibition of sexual harassment in higher institutions and that Nigeria could not be left behind.
“If Nigerian tertiary institutions can adopt some of the reflections we have made in this module, wholesale, and tune it to their specific cultural and sociological campus context, I think they would have taken a huge step in fighting this ‘epidemic’.
“We hope that this module will be distributed to lecturers, hostel wardens and friends across various campuses and we hope also that they download the Gender Mobile campus pal app for reporting sexual harassment.
“Having this module and app will guide them at all times and we are taking campuses together because anyone that has passed through an institution of higher learning must have harassed someone or have been harassed, or know someone who has been harassed.
“As society moves forward, the boundaries of what is accepted begins to move forward also. There was a time we cannot have conversation about sexual harassment in tertiary institutions and cannot talk about relationship between students and lecturers, but today, we have moved forward.
“I expect that as society begins to move forward, we will also adopt policies that reflect the changes in our understanding of these issues, as the module will be updated periodically to reflect constant social changes,” Akintunde said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the virtual event also saw six female finalists battle in the grand finale of the Gender Mobile 2022 sexual harassment prevention awareness debate for students.
In the end, Ayisat Adama of Bayero University Kano emerged the overall winner, as Oterai Emamoke from University of Port Harcourt finished as the first runner-up, while Ladipo Fehintola from Adeleke University ended the debate as the 2nd runner-up.
The finalists were rewarded with cash and gifts worth over N300,000.