Opening Night: 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence #WCC2017

We had such a short turn around time but my team pulled it off. I couldn’t have done it without them. I want to say thank you to each one of them. Kelvin, Sunny, Tony, Miracle, Martin, Tare, Akila, Dante, JohnBull, Kem, and Eddy.

And our amazing performer – Augusta, Chisom and Moses. I think we’ll bring them back for the closing ceremony. They can only get better.

It was a magical evening.

Our special guest of honour was Cleo Wilson, Deputy High Commissioner for Australia who very gamely made chit chat while we finished our installation and sound checks.

Our guests were the Australian High Commissioner, Paul Lehman and his parents. Osai Ojigho, country director for Amnesty International, Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi from the British Council and Haye Okon, celebrity photographer and initiator of AWWAS (A Woman With A Story). We also has Victor Anoliefo from the Abuja Literary Society and Miriam Turaki.

I wish I could say we started on time. We didn’t but we started at the perfect time anyway. Our guests were happy. So are all of us at the Women’s Crisis Centre.





We also had the first in a series of art therapy workshops for young women at risk. This year we are working with young women from the Durumi IDP camp. We will bring you more details about them and how you can help them later.


16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2017 #orangetheworld

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign which takes place each year and runs from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was originated by activists at the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and is coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.


This year’s global campaign theme “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls”, reinforces the UNiTE Campaign’s and Women’s Crisis Centre’s commitment to a world free from violence for all women and girls around the world, while reaching the most underserved and marginalized, including refugees, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters, amongst others, first.


“Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls” celebrates the unifying nature of one of the essential principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, while underscoring the world’s endeavor to “reach the furthest behind first”.

In 2015, all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through its 17 goals, the Agenda 2030 calls for global action over the next 15 years to address the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental. All the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are fully integrated with one another; thus, they cannot be approached in isolation.

Sustainable Development Goal 5 recognizes gender equality and the empowerment of women as a key priority pledging that “no one will be left behind.” Building on this vision throughout 2017, the UNiTE campaign is marking all Orange Days – 25th of every month, a day to raise awareness and take action to end violence against women – under the overarching theme “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls” to underscore the importance of reaching the most underserved.

Take a stand and say “No, to violence against women and girls.”

Culled from UN Women



Sexual Violence

My Sexual Assault & Dismissal At Oxfam GB Makes the Headlines – 7 Years Later

It’s been a mad week already. And its just Wednesday. I was minding my own business planning for the exhibition on November 25th and to move my things out of storage when Hollywood blew up over the Weinstein allegations.

A tweet by my sister Ms. Afropolitan triggered me to bring up the sexual harassment and assault that is prevalent in the humanitarian sector especially in Africa.  Chi Onwurah MP and Sean O’Neill, reporter with The Times took notice. Apparently they had been investigating allegations against Oxfam GB for while. They both got in touch.

In 2010 I was a victim myself. Read all about it here. I tried to ‘fix it’ (because that’s what social entrepreneurs do, I recall Jim Greenbaum telling us while at Ashoka.) Samuel Musa my assaulter and Oxfam GB fixed me instead and I lost my job with them as country director in Nigeria. They told everyone then and persist to say my dismissal was based on performance issues. Not a good recommendation in any sector.

I am so disillusioned with the sector. Sexual assault and cover up are the least of the problems. The sector is awash with bad practices. A lot of them financial. For a long time I thought Oxfam GB let me go because I was exposing too much of the muck.

Read Sean O’Neill’s stories here, here and here. I been barely following the reaction to the stories I’ve been so busy moving. I’m still trying to decide whether that is good or bad. Its been seven years this month since Oxfam GB dismissed me. I am thrilled that finally someone listened and paid attention. I am thrilled that the whole issue of sexual assault in the humanitarian sector is being given the attention it deserves.

What would I do differently? I would call the police immediately. Apparently if I had done that they could have accessed the CCTV evidence at the hotel but what did I know? It was my first time in the UK.  They could have questioned dozens of colleagues that were in the hotel that night.

What am I going to do now? I’m still thinking about it.

Meanwhile help me tell OxfamGB to #DoTheRightThing and #BeHumankind

Help me tell OxfamGB to #DoTheRightThing and #BeHumankind










Hey, We’re Back


In 2002 I received a MacArthur Leadership Development grant to implement ‘A Community Approach to Eliminating Violence Against Women’ and established the Women’s Crisis Centre Owerri where the project was based.

I did everything. Meetings with community leaders introducing ourselves and our mission, focus group discussions with girls and women, boys and men, and eventually training 20 volunteers from  existing community groups in conflict resolution skills and gender. They thanked me and told me what they really want is financial resources to trade and grow their business. WCC paid them a modest transport stipend for the first 6 months. Maybe they saved something.

I kept in touch with the volunteers regularly for a few years and then my high flying international development job arrested all my attention and we lost touch. In the years after the training they consistently reported that they used their new skills not only to advocate to end VAW but to successfully mediate and resolve other community disputes like land issues. That was a pleasant surprise and unexpected.

Time for an M&E. Where are they at the 15 year mark? How have their skills helped them? How effective have they been? Why or why not? How can we make them more effective? Can this project be replicated in other communities? Should it be? Could it increase peace and security in a community and have cumulative impact statewide and nationally? Who is out there doing a similar thing? How they doing? What else should we do. What has changed? How?

Earlier this year I planned an art exhibition for 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women as WCC’s first event since 2012. In the course of the year the idea has both crystallised and evolved. What was supposed to be a one day event is now a 16 days of activism project. Watch out for updates. It will be the coolest event of the night.

WCC is scaling up to a national organisation. I want us to be able to work nationally and globally to manifest our vision of peaceful communities that are safe and secure for all girls and women.

You see, I believe –

  • that communities and families are best positioned to maintain peace and security internally
  • they just need the skills, the knowledge and the incentive to do so
  • Igbo-Nigeria institutions such as the women’s groups that traditionally promoted peace and reconciliation in their families and homes can be empowered with best practices, skills and tools to increase their capacity to continue and amplify their role.
  • Men and men’s groups (as well as youth and youth groups) need to be empowered too or they won’t be able to keep up with the women
  • violence in the home, the community and the violent conflict simmering all over the country are merely degrees and scale of violence and are at least partly the result of poor conflict management
  • if you increase conflict resolution skills and tools and their use there will be a decrease in violence in the community

I also believe that if we create more economic opportunity the community will be more peaceful and secure. UNDP’s report ‘Journey to Extremism’ was very clear on the link between overly and extremism. Somehow these two must go together.

Meanwhile, the Abuja Family Law Clinic will be making a return. Watch this space for dates and locations. The Abuja Family Law Clinic is a monthly event with various underserved groups of women where we answer any questions they may have about their legal rights within their marriage and extend other support services as appropriate.


Exhibition & 16 Days of Activism: 25 November – 10 December



This year, 2017, the Women’s Crisis Centre pilots a 16 Days of Activism event to highlight WCC and its programs, promote Nigerian women artistes and promote self expression and healing through art for women generally and victims of various forms of violence against women specifically.

Theme: Women Finding Peace in A Conflicted World


The Exhibit showcases art works created by women telling their story of personal healing and finding peace in a world of violence, conflict and war that is waged on and with women’s bodies.

The exhibition has the following goals:

  • Celebrate women’s strength, healing in the face of violence through the arts
  • Create a safe space for women to tell their stories
  • Empower women through creative expression
  • Promote the WCC to the Abuja non profit and diplomatic community
  • Promote the arts in Abuja and
  • Encourage collaborations among women’s and artists’ groups