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 Members of the growing and influential movement of social entrepreneurs and innovators, Catalyst 2030, will gather with world leaders during Catalysing Change Week 2022 in answer to the universal call to find bold new strategies to make the world a more sustainable and fairer place for everyone.

Launched at the World Economic Forum in January 2020, Catalyst 2030 comprises more than 1,500 people and organisations who are active in over 180 countries and who directly reach an estimated two billion people

For five days from 9-13 May 2022, you will have the opportunity to join millions of people across the world at Catalyst 2030’s Catalysing Change Week (CCW). CCW2022 offers the unique opportunity to engage with the world’s most innovative changemakers as they collaborate, co-create and share best practices.

The week-long event is open to everyone who is interested in learning about the growing Catalyst 2030 movement, its work and successes in tackling the root of some of the world’s most difficult challenges, as it seeks to accelerate attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Journalist and Founder of Rubies Ink Initiative, Esther Ijewere, will be hosting the virtual zoom session on Media and Public Policy session on the 11th of May. The session kicks off by 9.30am WAT, and 10.30 CEST.

The speakers​ for the session​ are; Gusi Tobby Lordwilliams of Girl Hub Africa, Senior Software Analyst, and Mental Health Advocate; Larmmy O​g​idan-Odeseye, Journalist and Co-founder; The Gender Initiative ; Ruth Atim, and Communications expert; Rafiat Atanda.

“With over 250 sessions and activities between 9th to 13th of May​​ globally, it is a privilege to be hosting one and bringing such a crucial conversation to the front burner, as it relates to SDGs 3, 5, and 8”, Esther Ijewere said.

Jeroo Billimoria, Catalyst 2030 spokesperson and one of the movement’s co-founders said the event provided a crucial platform for the social innovation community and world leaders to brainstorm and collaborate to explore solutions to these challenges.

“Time is simply not on our side and people are suffering unnecessarily as the UN’s 2030 deadline to meet the SDGs looms. We need to make the most of every opportunity to work together towards making our collective dream of a better world for all people a reality,” Bilimoria said.

“We are excited that Catalysing Change Week 2022 will again bring together a diverse group of experts, social innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders from the private sector and government.  In a spirit of true collaboration we will listen deeply to understand the challenges and collaborate as never before to change the world for the better. Some of the problems that will be tackled include poverty, disease, food security and the pervasive global lack of access to basic services like health and education. Participants will tap into the collective wisdom around systems change while forging partnerships across countries, regions and sectors,” Billimoria said.

We invite the media and general public to join this panel session aimed at highlighting the role of the press and policy makers.

Please register to attend​ the Media and Public Policy  session​ with this link;  https://t.co/rmMhp3ECB1

Register for other Catalyst session​s​ here; https://catalysingchangeweek.catalyst2030.net/events/

​Read more about Cataylst 2030 here; ​https://catalysingchangeweek.catalyst2030.net/about/

Dr. Princess Olufemi-Kayode is a criminal justice psychologist and prominent child rights, activist. She is the Executive Director of Media Concern for Women and Children Initiative (MEDIACON), a non-profit organisation listed by the UNDP, which works with child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.  

Dr. Princess is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and rape, who has transformed to become a conqueror and fountain of succour for not only child victims but adult survivors as well. Started the first rape crisis centre in Nigeria in 2005 and reached hundreds of thousands of child victims, their families, and adult survivors of sexual violence. She shares her inspiring story and the inspiration behind her upcoming boot camp with Esther Ijewere.

Childhood Influence

OK about my childhood, looking back I will say yes but if I was asked this question maybe like 20 years ago, I would have said NO.  Looking back from where I am now in my life, I would say my experiences as a child prepared me for today. My parents were expecting a boy, and I arrived a girl.  I started in life proving that I am good enough to fill the boy space, and this put an extra push on me. That’s the same way I’ve committed myself to whatever it is I get into, I put myself into…

When I sit back and put on the 3D glasses, looking back, my life and the different experiences I had, yeah, I will say yes. My fighting spirit and ability to focus at one thing at a time were qualities I acquired. Looking through attending a private school, leaving at Primary to join a public school. So, you can see my experiences vary across class.  I experienced all this child I can understand someone from that background, I could really blend into various class sets. This is making made me smile… I was arrogantly stubborn and heady. Imagine me at 15 telling my father that he should focus on his other children, I will sort myself. You are self-made man; I will be a self-made woman. I’ve always been a fighter and that’s what I’m still doing. I stood up for the hurting, wounded, cheated even to my detriment as a child. I never liked injustice.

Inspiration behind  Media Concern Initiative

Starting Media Concern Initiative (MediaCon) has nothing to do with my being a survivor.  I was working with The Punch Newspaper and managing two pages focusing on woman. I avoided doing the regular focus of most women’s section – make-u, fashion, parenting for mothers (lol), cooking, you know home front issues and about how women should do better.  I did differently – having two full pages per week. I began to raise social issues and one of them was on Child Sexual Abuse – no one was talking about abuse. This invisible Tsunami was totally ignored as a nation. The response across the nation was huge. Adults from all six Geo=political zones in Nigeria responded. Over 1000 responses received through the newspapers Private Mail Bag and email. we had bold the private meal bags and middle course my first email was opened for me because My first email address was opened for me in The Punch. The column was ‘Princess’ was my name, so I had to use my second name Modupe Kayode. The response from adult survivors, I think more than 65% were men, women were about 35%. It was scary to see the pain, wounded and still suffering at what they had no control over what happened to you as a child, and the experience (s) still has gigantic impact and influence on adult survivors lives for worse. MediaCon was birthed as a name based of my publishing the issues around Child Sexual Abuse. I left the Punch, joined Journalist against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria, and worked in media advocacy and activism for two years. MediaCon continued its work on low key, educating teens in my living room for those years.

In 2002, I felt really bored at work. I had attained the height of my work and had no more challenges. I strive on challenges. I just needed something else excites me it was no longer exciting, and I didn’t just want to resign, without having something definite. I started feeling like it was time to move on. So, I sought God’s face on What Next? I waited for my church’s end of year event – Shiloh 2002, and I got my answer – Sexuality Minister, between God and I. The answer was the last thing I wanted in my life. Though this affirmed I couldn’t have come up with it myself… I never really imagined that I would have anything to do with the three-letter word – SEX. My personal experience with the word was not encouraging at all. It is like having to live through all my worst experiences again.

Finally, I succumbed and accepted my faith gladly. Then I decided if this the way to go, how best am I going to do it? Then plunged into research. What has been happening in Nigeria? What are they doing? Who was doing what around sexuality? What did they focus on and how? After visiting some organisations, apart from online searches, articles, abstract, reports, etc. I   concluded to settle the organisation’s focus on the Child Sexual Abuse

During the preparation stage, we were working at the back-end strategizing, when I received a call. Till this day, I have no idea who gave the parent of an eight-year-old, who had been sexually abused girl my mobile number. We had to step out much earlier than anticipated.

Very few people knew I was doing this. There was no official announcement yet. The parents of the little girl were both police officers.  This little girl could barely walk properly. She had an infection; part of the presentation was the migration of pin worms into vaginal area.  A doctor joined us in research. I found a Professor, back then he was a doctor – Sunday Idemudia of the University of Ibadan. He was invited to participate in the very first Media Roundtable organised by MediaCon to hold on this topic. That was with the beginning of media roundtables. She (the little girl) ignited my action button, boosted my passion, and heralded the fountain of inspiration. First it was God, you know and then, also the reality of seeing a little girl, who couldn’t walk properly, infected because of sexual abuse by very close family acquaintance – the son of the girl’s Godparents who at that time was a law undergraduate in a State University in 2003.

Together with an awesome take off crew, in addition was collective inspiration. I can’t even make claim to it. The appearance of that family and the timing ascertained we were the right path that and so that was it and there was no stopping us.

Being A Survivor Of Rape And Child Sexual Abuse, And My Healing Process

Hmmm… My healing is all together another phase of my life.

I never shared my sexual abuse experiences with anyone growing up. Though my parents did discover one – he was actually caught in the act- a paternal uncle. l lived with pain that , was that all my father and mother could do to protect me. Back then, my dad told my mum to “…take your daughter and go clean her.” Looking back now, I can see why he called me names most of my childhood. Interestingly enough, I have never seen the part of it, until answering these questions. My dad called me , Ashewo.” It never really bothered me. I never opened up about any experience before or after that.

I started research on Satan and Sex, this was one of the ways to deal with the issue. I enjoyed majority of the consequences of sexually abuse and this I got  to know from researched from mainly the United States. Yet I was born and live in Nigeria.

When my purpose was realigned to help save others, bring hope, healing, and justice… Working with other survivors, working with perpetrators, attending, and participating in strategic events and  self-development programmes. Connecting with therapists, and most of all my faith I God. I began to heal…It is still an ongoing process. You just get better, stronger, forgive and forget.

I fought a long battle. My work at MediaCon also helped.

I still believe that it takes God to heal from these experiences, but therapy is necessary.

Wearing Multiple Hats And Staying Grounded

Indeed, I do wear many hats … uuummm and it can be scary too, even for me…. because there are times when I want to answer what is it, I do, and it’s like bragging … you know, and this never ever my intention.

Sometimes you see me in a particular programme with a title, and then in another programme or event, and I have another title. That’s because I wear multiple hats.

My work in MediaCon is exposed me to many skills, aside the ones I had when starting the organization. My background is writing. I just loved to write, This I noticed in secondary school. Also, I wrote a lot of poems. I was known to do the best love prose… I was not business like, otherwise, all the free write ups should have earned me a fee. Maybe even make a lot … lol…

So here I am coming into this work, of course I had a little background in journalism and so here I am facing this new assignment, I don’t know anything apart from researches, studies, and my experiences as a child victim, and survivor. I didn’t really study journalism, until much later.  just you so you know, I can align with a lot of things. Being a learner and knowing how to ask questions from various angles was helpful and so we continue to work and began to fill the gaps and lapses that we had in terms of skill in terms of qualifications. So much more for me was skill actually and together with my staff, we began to build capacity. Apart from working with the Media to keep this subject in the fore.

My personal capacity grew – as I became a Certified Forensic Interviewer, Trauma Management Counsellor, with criminal justice psychology background. You know just different things, looking at the gaps that we needed to fill up, to enable us to do and give the best. I sought to be on top of the work – Got more training on Crisis Centers Structures, work, and the intervention with survivors; Victim Advocacy; STEPS Counselling Therapy & Treatment; Working with children and teenagers on inappropriate sexual behavior. I was just on a learning spree, with placed me and staff capacity was also being built…

I did a lot of training and have a lot of certifications. I am a Master Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, did Family Systems Engineering; moved to take on How To Think courses. Just empowering myself you know, a Premium Sexuality educator you know and a SGBV response expert, a Child protection and safeguarding policy and procedure strategist. I do consulting in that area I help schools and organizations develop their living and workable child protection and safeguarding policy and procedures. I do forensic interviewing and child interviewing, not interrogation trainings. I love my hats. Like you said I wear quite a lot and how do I manage.  When I was starting out, my husband was supportive. He encouraged me. There were times where, I got to work and will be informed I was traveling same day. When I want to refuse, he’ll say don’t worry. Imagine, I had a wardrobe at work. Yes. With my husband’s permission of course. He encouraged me and kept the Homefront going. Of course, my older children were part of my support system, and my faith in God. They were awesome. They allow my spread my wings.

Nearly 20 years plus in this work, I don’t play with self-care now. Back in the days, even when I do understand self-care, it was something that I made sure my staff and I do. When I noticed they are fatigue, we could shut down the office and just go to the beach and go to the cinema. I couldn’t bear them drained, particularly when they will refuse to take time off. That bunch… lol Watching them and seeing them drained. So much to do, being the foremost organization on prevention and providing crisis response back in the days – opening the first rape crisis center in the country and attending to not just Lagos, but the nation was a lot. Also, I am privileged to have a lot of good people around me um who took me in, some as my mentors and some mentees and lot of sisters from this work.

Lastly, if you know me, I know how to play.  I play a lot and I dance.  I watch movies and play my Candy Crush.  I love dancing and playing with my grandsons. I have three now.

I used to carry work home but that changed a long time back now. I arrive home from work, fling my shoes, start pulling off work clothing and right back on my laptop or attending to the 24hr helpline. That had to stop. Work time, family time. there must be boundaries.

Presently, it is like I’m detached, that’s because I’m no longer emotional about issues. I do empathize. I’m just not into sentiments. The Nigerian factor… I listen but I’m not going to jump straight out… you know when somebody has a case of domestic violence or something like this you see everybody come but that wasn’t me before. I’m calm now, objective about what exactly needs to be done about this issue. It’s not only jumping up and down

What I Enjoy Most About My Job

It will be bureaucracy.  Emergency was not a word that received attention as it should. This put a lot of burden, as child protection and safeguarding issues required on the go. You must submit a letter, which will go through many desks before action can be taken. Sometimes, more danger or even loss of life or family, sometimes, key witness has been taken out of state.

This is no longer the picture, but a lot still needs to be done.  The lack of understanding of the dynamics of child sexual abuse, our laws, multisectoral sector and implementation was a challenge. Because I have been researching on this topic a long time, I understood the law, the legal aspects and law enforcement. It was very frustrating that we had to be filling the gaps at different crossroad. Filling gaps with capacity building of staff both locally and internationally.  Oh my God, one of the greatest things MediaCon enjoyed was that we had awesome funding partners, they wanted to see us grow.

Another challenge was crisis management. It is great to note that there was no funding for crisis management. Crisis management took the magnitude of money. When a case is reported, the organisation bears the cost of logistics for the case – provide transportation for the family involved, food for the family involved, medical, etc. MediaCon relocated five families completely for their safety and most of all for the wellbeing of the children in Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja. The families got rented self-contained apartments, secured to avoid access to the children. I mean gate and basic furnishing to comfortable living standard. Mothers were set up in businesses and school fees are paid for the children. Organisations like ours must be the ones who bear the financial brunt to enable us assist child victims, their families, and survivors with very lean resources. The criminal justice system was not encouraging back in the days, we had a case of a girl who was four when she was defiled, at nearly 12 or 13 years old, we got conviction, after incessant adjournments…

Then investigation, there were lots of bottle necks, there’s so many things we did, such as actually undertake brief investigation, before writing a petition – this happened around 2003-2005. Back in the days, police didn’t work so well with state social workers, this affected children, who needed protection, MediaCon was able to bridge this gap.  Pornography was easily accessible to children, sold on the streets for as cheap as a hundred Naira, child sexual abuse reports were increasing daily. MediaCon and our Children Advisory Board members together with the Ministry of Women Affairs and State Children Parliament acquired over 1000 children appended their signatures to a Save Our Soul (SOS) document delivered to the Stae House of Assembly Speaker and top representatives in 2007.

I brought cases home, working with the Ministries, girls were taken into my home. My family was targeted, to the point we had to relocate within Lagos leaving our property behind. Our lives, that of my staff were in danger many times over. Who would keep us safe? International community supported our relocation. Our office was burgled, only the crisis management laptop was stolen. The attacks were clearly case related… Keeping us safe became a challenging.

Family and so ictal intrusions based on myths, and the devil was a were also a challenge. Knowing the subject of our work – children were mostly abused. More than once, men of God came to my office to plead for an adult sexual molester – telling me how this person has changed their ways and the devil was responsible. Of course, they were arrested right in my office by plain cloth Police Officers – Area G Commander worked so well with us in that regard. The understanding of the society was a huge challenge – lots of interference in the cases. We kept putting up educational, sensitization and Enlightment programmes and materials across 5 languages – Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, English and Pidgin English.

My Upcoming Boot Camp On How To Start Sex Education With Children

About, the boot camp programme- It is about how to start and keep the sex with your children going. This course was first introduced in 2016, on Teachable.com platform and over 250 parents trained. I was just testing the market and it was free. Over the years, more parents and care givers have taken the course and paid for. However, for the first time in this training programme, other experts are joining us.

 We shall be looking at emotional intelligence for the sexuality education talks and looking at how to keep your mental health in check – you know the culture of the generation we are in is quite different from that of parents and adults. We are delving also, on how to think – critical thinking and on the spot thinking when it comes to issues of your children and of course of sexuality and different things that are around us.

In addition, family life as we know it, is not the same. You know deep down that as parents you are not really prepared to even face or acknowledge them. Family cultures, values and beliefs need to be revisited; we have an expert to help us in this terrain.

We shall also looking at inappropriate sexual behavior. One thing of parents shies away from – not wanting to accept your child is misbehaving and for some unconscious labeling and dumping the responsibility as that of the devil, the woman in the village, village people, the mother or siter in law who doesn’t like you, etc.… So, cover them.

 I know that most parents want what is good, even best for their children and must be able to make sure there is balance. Unconsciously too sometimes, parents are the ones, even creating the damage. When you do not know when to draw the line.  The Bootcamp will take incognizance the recent happenings and putting a searchlight at real of things happening around us as regards the sexuality culture of today, and how as parents you can position yourself to do good, better, and even great.

I remember back in the early days of media con talking about 2004 and 2005, there came the era of recording gang rape, recording on mobile phone and sharing – some went viral… It was like teens started creating their own porn. They rape, gang-rape, sexually assault a girl, record the girl and themselves, but without the faces of the boys – show everything that occurred and share it, sheer wickedness. So, we have seen quite a lot and It was horrible. These are our sons living double lives. So many girls were tortured and humiliated. Some will never know how far the video recordings reached.

MediaCon was able to trace some of these girls, got the girls and arrest were made, but they were too much…

 As a person who is very involved in the sector, I’m talking about the child sexual abuse prevention and crisis provision sector, we saw as children to children begin to escalate. Most people assume that sexual abuse can only be committed by an adult. That is what we are used to in the news, but we are finding quite a lot of inappropriate sexual behavior and activities between children. Also, we began to see that children were being convicted on rape cases as adults this happened in United States of America. Quite a lot because we’re monitoring global happenings. Child to Child has been around for a while and has been escalating since then as far back as 2001, escalated about 2012. An example of sexually assaulting rape and video taking was the famous case of the Steubenville High School back in 2012.

Attending this Bootcamp is a parent’s game up…  yes, you’ve just got to game up… no more excuses… The church is not responsible to teach your child, the Islamic educators are not, even to an extent, it’s not the schools responsibility.

Yes, there are some arguments about what the content of school-based sexuality education must consist off… I am in support – what is it appropriate and what is not…

You must understand how you to develop your family safety plan and a lot more that you will get introduced to other things that will be very helpful for your children. So, it’s a course you must not miss, and like I said many experts are going to be a part of it. It takes place from May 1st – 8th

What I Enjoy Most About My Job

 A chance to see there’s a woman and child safe. There’s a home to keep safe.  Living… really for me is saving life – one life at a time.  I love my work. I must say to you, I live by giving hope. I live by providing healing. You know so that’s just what yeah in I breathe every day of my life. I just want to give hope to people and bring healing. I live my work because it gets me to play that role, I love children … This comes naturally to me… Everywhere I go, children are drawn to me everywhere I go in the world … At the airport, you see children drawn to me… It’s interesting that some parents try to keep them back. I’ll plead them that it is okay, leave them. I’m not surprise that I end up working for them and with them. I love it because my experiences tend to give deeper insight into some things. Growing in the work also has given me working experience, which has been quite helpful.

 I love my work I could just wake me up from my sleep anytime, and I’ll jump into effortlessly. I found what I could do for free and get paid for. It is like playing just myself enjoying myself enjoying my time you know giving into a life really meaning.  it’s just so beautiful to be able to do that and when I work with a team, I mean that’s family for me. I have that family culture everybody comes in with one so we can work together. I see you I can talk to you and I’m just grateful for my life, I am grateful to have work and still working with awesome individuals.  Yeah, we have differences, but I love what I do and I’m in it.  if I’m doing anything I mean to it I mean I give it my whole …my ALL

Government And Support For Stakeholders In The Gender-Based Violence Sector

As someone who works in the SGBV sector, the government plays the major role to keep her citizens safe. Provide succour to the wounded, afflicted, and abused, etc.  what can I say…hmmm from when we started back, it’s a bit better NOW… it is better though some of the battles are still the same.  but look at the long journey back and over 20 years, we need to come up as a country with a very comprehensive crisis provision. Crisis provision includes prevention.

We need to set aside and add to country and state budgets – support for stakeholders at the different levels.

Empowering of Criminal justice sector officials and maintain continuous training and retraining by updating and reviewing and working together to discover what would work for us as much as we look at ours and others best practices.

We are far better than where we are coming from… Yet, the hurdles on the pathway to giving optimal care and services still exist. It is no joke really. Crisis response is about life and death sometimes. With a population of over 200 million, we have less than 20 functional shelters. Medicals, Therapy, Relocation, if need be. It is private organisation bearing the cost – that should be government provision. And people should stop believing that NGOs is all about collecting foreign funds. There are people and organisations working tirelessly, even some government MDAs (Ministry, Departments and Agencies). We make laws, and implementation and education of the society to the laws is still a struggle.  The VAPP Act is still crawling – more than 20 states have enacted at State level. Certain laws need to be reviewed and amended.

Shelters are overburdened and there is no financial support, we’ve got to come to accept the reality – you want women to leave abusive homes for where? Yes, shelters are temporary! A woman has finally taken the bold step to walk out of her situation, is a person ready to walk on water. They need more than just shelter, their psychological and mental state requires to access therapy. Most do not get that at all

As a country, and as a government, what are we doing to help to make sure that it’s not just going to a shelter but that you’re going through all the comprehensive care needed before reintegrating into society.

I remember in the early days with we worked with The Real Woman Foundation, they started working with sex workers. They had a home (Still have) supporting rehabilitation and reintegration for those who wanted out. We happen to have a teenage call retrieved from sex work. They offered a comprehensive program – taking each person through group and individual therapy, spiritual program, medical and physical health, and skill acquisition or back to school program. They built capacity before they are reintegrated into society. What I am saying, is for the government to go back to the drawing board and put a budget heading to support SGBV related programmes.

Resources need to spread across board, our legislators, presidency, vice, house of rep’s members, state house of assemblies, councilors- we need to reduce the pay. We need to go too far on where to find resources. How important sis the lives of the women and children of this nation? That is the question they need to answer truthfully.  Enough of collection of heavy salaries and benefits – our people are dying. Nigeria has got to commit money into supporting and providing support for civil society. The few individual homes need to be supported. There needs to be a sit down on the way forward

We are too dependent on international aids. We need to be less dependent on international funding. Where are our philanthropists. Let them arise to put their money where their mouth is. This is not saying Nigerians are not supporting, but it’s like trickle of water in a vast ocean of chaos.

Not all NGOs are syphoning funds, there are organisations tirelessly working hard. It’s time to wake up and put our money where our mouth is.

Governments need to evaluate what they are doing, bring in the academia to work with the civil society and government MDAs to do researches. Let’s create programme that are based on evidence.

 Three women who inspire me  and why

Number one on my list is Lisa Nicholas. The breakthrough specialist. Who lost everything … really had nothing except $12 to her name, a toddler son, homeless and hit Ground Zero. She found her voice, She found her feet, is a blessing globally, changing lives and finally found love too… It’s like a fairy tale too.  I see me scaling… as my life experiences have taken me on similar path. I see the glory… Bearer of Hope and Healing…

Number two, Oprah Winfrey. Born into poverty, experienced multiple child sexual abuse molestations. She rose above al odds. Got into media and rose to become a top talk show hostess, left to start of her own company. She doesn’t only know the onions of talk show, she explored acting and has starred in multiple movies. She runs her own charity that she funds. She is a global influencer. She does a lot to move women forward. She is an inspiration.

Lastly, Diana Ross… This lady still gets me having goose pimples on my skin, when I think of the iconic lady. I love her tenacity, ability to always look sleek. and remaining a legend. Also, how she kept her family private in her kind of world.

What We Can Do Better As A Society To Educate Parents On The Importance Of Having Sex Talks With Their Children From An Early Age

Religious organizations have got to be take a front burner, as they carry a have influence. If a call to home-based sexuality education hits pulpits and they are sharing the importance of sexuality education – it will pay off.

I can never forget way back one time in 2005 or 2006 thereabouts, I was invited to speak at the girls’ camp of one of the Pentecostal churches. In that meeting, I had access to about 2000 girls from ages 5 – 17. I just came to teach them basic child sexual abuse prevention. This meeting became a major milestone in my journey in this work because I was contemplating stopping about that time. What I experienced was too much pain. Asking the Holy Spirit about what He had to share … before the meeting and on my way… was, “My Heart Bleeds.” Nearly 80% of those in attendance had experienced a form of child sexual molestation. On that day, there was wailing! As I am responding to you, I can still vividly see the scenario all over again. I knew I could not STOP working…

There is serious need for the religious leaders to take the topic of sexuality education and other related matters serious. Parents need to join the conversation to understand that they need to take it up as part of their teachings, not just the holy books.  Not just spiritual.

Already, Nigeria has sexuality education incorporated into the secondary school system. Interestingly, Sexuality Education came under comprehensive life skill training. ARFH in Ibadan and Action Health Incorporated worked relentlessly for it to be introduced to schools in Lagos State.

As a nation, we need to create more programmes for parents to know what’s really going on in the world today. Keeping them abreast of related happenings. They need to access more education through trainings and participation. There’s no shame in acknowledging I don’t know about a thing if I don’t. All I should be thinking about is who has it, and that I can learn from.

What is of utmost value is the children and what’s best for them.

I recall my sister and I sharing our experience of when as little girls we used to make our hair – the traditional ‘Didi’ a service provided by elderly women in the Neighborhood. How we use to suffer inhaling, after holding our breath and can’t any longer… terrible odour. Why? In making the hair, they sit on wooden stools, and put one’s head bent low between their open thighs. The offensive odour coming from between their legs was killing. Yeta s children, you don’t dare to say a word. We always cried to have a haircut. My mum overhead us sharing and asked us why didn’t you tell me? How would one frame the words back in the days… You wan die.

Parenting has become intentional above emotional and sentiments. What kind of child are you raising? Parents can also seek, find, and knock and it shall be open to them, as they seek, they find, as they knock, the door is open to them. In other words, you must make the effort – you don’t want to repeat patterns by your parents… Take the great, good and learn from the bad, worse, and impractical.

One Thing I Wish To Change In The GBV Sector, Especially In Nigeria

If there was anything I could do to be changed in the GBV sector, what would that be? This is huge. As a nation, so many things oh!  I’ll just pick one thing. I’m thinking o… this question is killing me … my mind is just blank.

OK one thing … I can do … I’ll say mass awareness and education. This is not sensitization of a community type, but entire nation. Not just in the hand of one agency – but all – Government MDAs, Private Sector, Professional bodies, Non-Profit, Religious Organisations and entities, traditional, Influencers, etc. The police should have a public enlightenment department that is enlightening the public and not just about armed robbery, but every crime including sexual abuse prevention. Educating on what to do, as it involves them and criminal justice sector…

I know some may argue that this has already been done. Yes, I concur, but what are the results… With our massive population. We need to have a With our massive population. We need to have a strategic vision on what we want to achieve as a country as regards SGBV. This is to guide all parties. Knowing how to position and work towards a COLLECTIVE GOAL.

Corporate organisations can sponsor or collaborative. We see how they support BBN, Now, my recommendation is for them to join in the mass education.  We need to get their attention. If it must be musical jamboree, then we find how to link to the message. They can also be a part of supporting sponsoring billboards and enlightenment education in the different languages – like Hausa, Kanuri, Efik, Yoruba, Igbo, Edo, Fulani, Pidgin English, Ijaw, Ibibio, etc. This sis to mention a few. We have over 500 native languages in Nigeria.

It is so critical that we save many lives through education. Education will help us reduce number of abuses, for prevention is better than cure.  Advertising and PR agencies can contribute to developing copies that assist with behavioural changes. This is not a quick fix. It continues intermittently.  We need to come down our high horses and really focus on this for the benefit of our people and for the good of this nation.

It’s so, so important – that this is not a one-off show. It does not need a launching or opening declaration event, etc.  Nigeria needs a vision for SGBV as a nation, so everybody can tap into that vision. Everybody has that vision and work to achieving the set goal. The criminal justice sector, education, local government, influencers, private sector, and other sectors work with the vision.

My question to the government, Oh my God what’s the thing you plan for in Nigeria prevention crisis provision rehabilitation. not just for survivals but also for even the perpetrators it’s so important thank you so much for that question.

Tehila 5

The Tehila 5.0 Initiative

Yes, we are having Tehila 5.0. Four organisations coming together to put this together. Wevvo, Rubies Ink Initiative, Fatimah Balaraba Foundation, Media Concern Initiative (MediaCon), and Safe Space Initiative. The event holds on May 7th

The formation of this union is very interesting. Ideas do not belong to any, they float in the atmosphere, It is the implementers that now own the idea… We were all having ideas, finding that our ideas align in purpose and goal.  Thinking alike. I want to give single mums a day out. Wevvo and Rubies Ink work with them. Safe Space has been holding Tehila foe some years now, and this is the fifth series…

I believe so I began this year with this crazy thing about giving you know doing something special for single moms it’s just my birthday but of course my children recommended mommy just postpone it for now. I was just sharing with the leadership of Safe Space Initiative, Osasu and informed, Ill reach out to Wevvo and Rubies Ink Initiative. It aligned with what Tehila 5.0 is sent out to do. The planning was already in the works. Wevvo and Rubies Ink, Fatimah Balaraba Foundation saw they fitted in and how this can start on the template of Tehila.

Brining in the dynamics of our strengths and joint goal to support women, single mums, Domestic Violence survivors, divorced, widows, etc.  In this program, together we want to make life beautiful for other women. you know particularly those who are affected in anyway and need a break, group therapy, etc. The event offers group therapy, fun, games, dance, lots more.

This edition of Tehila 5.0 is including the children.  The event allows a mother attend with maximum of 2 children. Anyone with more than 2 should watch virtually. Registration is compulsory.

Being  a Woman of Rubies

 What makes me a woman of Ruby …wow I would say my life journey…my wounds… my scars and what I’ve been able to do with them.

 I know it’s so interesting that there are fresh wounds in the journey of life, and then accepting them as part of the journey, healing, bearing those scars and learning from them.

Wearing them like ornaments, then using them for something purposeful like impacting other lives, using it to make sure somebody else doesn’t go through that, and doing that for over 20 years. I have been involved in over 20,000 cases of abuse. I count it a rare privilege. I am still alive to do more.

I wear my stuff – ornaments well. I acknowledge that it doesn’t make me emotionless. I can still cry. If I fall, I dust myself and start that all over. There is a destination, and after that my destination modest nation I’m a woman of Ruby

What I Would Say To A Woman Who Is Scared Of Walking Out Of An Abusive Marriage

what would I say to woman feared working out of course there’s nothing to say to a woman who is enjoying her marriage.

 if you’re going through any form of abuse that demeans you emotionally, financially, spiritually, and sexually – it makes you feel like you’re less of you. Start asking yourself some serious questions.  Knowing your life is in danger and pretending not to see what’s lies ahead of you?

You can only the LIVING can settle and that makes me just want to share a bit in my life’s journey.   I’ve not shared this publicly, so here’s a scoop for Woman of Ruby.  I think I’ve done so in some meetings, but they’re in closed meetings. Now, I’m in that place where I can talk about it.

I stepped out of my marriage for 3years. There was no planning, but it ended up in a separation, and for three years I was by myself. I had to step aside. I stepped out.  I fled for my life. I fled for my life because my life was endangered, and it would have been dumbed to stay behind and become a corpse.

I didn’t want to put my children through that, so for whatever he was going through I needed to leave, and I did. Interestingly, we are back after three years apart. What would have happened if I was dead?

He could also have killed himself or be in jail. There’s so much wisdom in LIFE FIRST! Yes, what I just shared is shocking and this is just rounding it up in brief …  it’s a long story, but I am alive!

 I was scared, I did not know what was going to happen when I left. I was used to being married and it was 23 years in the marriage journey.  I had put in so much and worked every day.

I cried nearly every day for the first 3 months… but I’m here today.  It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I’m not saying that the journey ahead of you is going to be smooth, so don’t think because you need to step out it is going to be smooth sailing. There’s no readymade smooth journey ahead.  No! It’s like stepping on water, but you’ve got to take that step of faith for your life and for your children sake. Leave and be alive! Be bold, have faith- no life is tied to the other.

Tehila 5.0 is set to a life changing group therapy event for mothers and children. The theme for the event is: Building Adequate Support For You And Your Children: What to Look Out For?

The world is changing and with this change comes challenges in parenting and raising good offsprings. Tehila 5.0 will spotlight every skill needed to support and care for your child, and much more!

Who can attend?
Domestic Violence Survivors,
Single Moms,
Separated or Divorced Women and Widows.

Note that Tehila 5.0 will be a mother and child event and so you are encouraged to come with your children.

Location: Abuja, Lagos, and online

Venue: Will be communicated to registered participants

Date: 7th May 2022
*
Time : 9:00am prompt

Register now to secure your spot!

Click this link to register : https://bit.ly/3vCG3Ec

Rubies Ink Initiative for Women and Children and Women of Rubies, put smiles on the faces of 100 seniors and vulnerable in Alimosho LGA and Makoko community with it’s Christmas Food Drive initiative. The project which was funded through the support of the public was a huge success.

The team went into the two communities to give food packages to the elderly in a bid to make them happy and feel loved.

Rubies Ink has been into advocacy, empowerment, and development projects since 2008, and runs multiple projects, empowerment workshops, trainings, campaigns, media advocacy, and women’s outreach programs centered around domestic violence, gender equality and women’s health.

They also organize the annual Walk against Rape campaign , celebrated over 1000 exceptional women through their womenofrubies.com platform, and raise funds online  for women and children in urgent need of medical and other support.

Speaking about the Christmas food drive for the aged, the founder of Rubies Ink, Esther Ijewere said;

“Old age is a blessing, we need to continuously make our seniors feel loved and appreciated. The pandemic has taught us to live in the moment and be intentionally kind, that’s one of the reasons we supported our seniors this festive season, In our bid to spread love and light. We appreciate our donors for their unwavering and continuous support over the years.”

The Project Coordinator, Michelle Inegbese said;

“This is what we love to do, supporting those in need, and putting smiles on faces. Our seniors deserve that and much more. We hope to do this more often”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see more of Rubies Ink work on rubiesink.org and womenofrubies.com, and follow their social media handles; Facebook- Rubies Ink Initiative for Women and Children, Women of Rubies, Walkagainstrape. Instagram; @rubiesink, @womenofrubiesng, @walkagainstrape.Twitter; @rubiesinkng @womenofrubies and @walkagainstrape.

On Saturday November 25th , 2018 The Eloy awards held the 10th edition of it’s prestigious award ceremony and Esther Ijewere, founder of Rubies Ink Initiative for Women and Children and Editor-In-Chief of Multiple award winning blog Women of Rubies won the Social Entrepreneur award, for her selflessness and contribution towards the empowerment of women both at the grassroots and social level.

While she was unable to attend the epoch making event, Esther was well represented by her Mentee Lordwilliams Gusi Tobby of Girlhub Africa, who gave an outstanding speech on behalf of her Mentor and also congratulated other Nominees.

Reacting to the award, Esther took to her social media page to show her appreciation;

“Thank you Jesus for yet another award! Who am I? Nothing but pencil before you Heavenly father … absolutely Nothing!

Just a young girl whose life is a movement she barely can understand.

I dedicate this Award to my Mom! Mummy I never reach where I dey go o but this is for you! For bringing me to the world against all odds and always standing by me through thick and thin… I owe you so much Mama!!!

To everyone that voted for me, May God honour you all, I appreciate you for your love and constant support! We won!!!

Our beautiful Queens at Women of Rubies You guys rock! Thanks for making it all worth it

Thanks to my wonderful team, this is our Win guys! Yes! We did it.

Thanks for picking yet another award for me my ever supportive mentee and aburo Lordwilliams Tobby. I appreciate you!

To Tewa Onasanya and the @eloyawards team, I Stan you. May God bless the work of your hands. Thanks for counting me worthy

Thank you Jesus, for this, that and everything! I remain Loyal

This is Esther’s second award this year, it will be recalled that the social entrepreneur won the “Humanitarian of the year award” at the D&K Soumi awards back in August.