Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Oxfam in Nigeria has said it would double its efforts in challenging stereotypes and bias that limit women, through its first worldwide Enough Campaign to Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG).
Its Country Director, Iftikhar Nizami, in a statement issued in Abuja recently said this year’s International Women’s Day came at a time of a worldwide conversation on the need for more respect for women in social, cultural and economic spaces.
He expressed Oxfam’s solidarity with women throughout the world as they #PressforProgress in the fight against inequality and said the organisation would continue to be a steadfast partner in this progress for women and minority populations around the world.
According to him, “Like people around the world, we at Oxfam have all followed the news from the #MeToo and time’s up movements, with a mix of awe at the strength of the many women who have taken a stand and refused to be silent; frustration at the slowness of change in institutions; and a renewed sense of optimism in the potential for change.”
Nizami reaffirmed Oxfam’s commitment to improving livelihoods and reducing poverty in a way that improves women’s lives around the world. “Through our efforts and initiatives, like many institutions around the world, we are responding”, he said.
He stated: “We will #PressforProgress by doubling our efforts in challenging stereotypes and bias that limit women, through our first worldwide ENOUGH Campaign to Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) which aims to challenge and change social norms that perpetuate violence against women and girls by replacing harmful norms with positive norms that promote gender equality and non-violence”.
“We will also #PressforProgress by committing to extending opportunities to women first, working with them as spokespersons and leaders from among the approximately 48,000 women benefiting from our Female Food Hero and Village Savings Loan Association platforms and connecting their voices to the global audience. We will #PressforProgress by giving credit to and making visible women’s contributions and achievements in our communities and the country at large.
“We will continue to push for a responsible investment in agriculture in favour of Female small-scale farmers while striving for rural women empowerment. We will work with our Goodwill Ambassadors like Lami Phillips to put a spotlight on the #SOAMAZING things millions of women are doing despite numerous challenges they are facing.”
The country director however admitted that the past few weeks have been difficult for Oxfam staff around the world, as reported in the news about condemnable conduct from one of its staff members’ conduct in Haiti and Chad, and the uproar that followed.
“Amidst this difficulty, we have had a front row seat to how even great institutions that have done great work can do much better in putting in place safeguarding measures that ensure the respect of the communities that we seek to serve through our work.
“Internally, we are reshaping the culture of Oxfam to shift the power to ensure women’s voices are listened to and respected. Team managers are working with culture change specialists to start to shift the culture of the organisation in order to stamp out exploitation, abuse and harassment in whatever form.
“In looking inward, Oxfam as an institution is in dialogue with its many countries offices around the world to examine the gaps in our accountability structures that allowed for such behaviour by some members of our staff, and how we can work together to close these gaps.
“We have increased the number of our safeguarding experts to ensure that our internal systems in respect of references are rigorous and effective. We are strengthening our protocols, examining how we interact with local communities and committing to working with government authorities to swiftly address any such abuses by any member of Oxfam staff in Nigeria,” he assured.