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Hey, We’re Back

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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.

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

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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

OBJECTIVES/GOALS

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
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Featured Content – Women Finding Peace: Exhibit & Workshops 25 November – 10 December

Women are both more outspoken about DV and more supportive of each other. However there is still a huge gap in therapeutic programs for survivors of various programs and funding for such programs. Artistic expression has been and continues to be an accessible and cost effective way of therapy for victims and survivors of various forms of violence.

WCC is piloting a program that will bring awareness to violence against women especially in conflict situations and promote the use of artistic expression as therapy for VAW as well as tell the women’s stories of survival.  Art therapy, defined in the 1940s as the therapeutic use of art in healing, is a common method of working through traumatic experiences.

Using an exhibition and workshops as creative vehicles of support and empowerment we encourage participants to use their voices to combat violence and violence against women. Whether they are survivors, bystanders or advocates of sexual assault victims  participants can experience the personal and therapeutic impact of speaking out against gender based violence through the use of metaphor.

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 will:

  • Celebrate women’s strength and resilience in the face of violence
  • Create a safe space for women to share their stories
  • Empower women through creative expression
  • Promote the WCC
  • Promote the arts in Abuja and
  • Encourage collaborations among women’s and artists’ groups

 

Exhibit Opening Date: Saturday 25 November 2017 Time: 6PM

Coinciding with the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women. Opening night will include activities including an “Orange the World” event, spoken word poetry, book reading and cocktails in the garden.

The exhibiting artistes will facilitate one day workshop  during the 16 days with 20 at risk young women and or survivors of various forms of VAW. Participants will be selected from IDP camps, rape and counselling centre, sex workers rehabilitation programs and other programs that target and work with at risk women.

Painting Workshop for Girls and Young Women: Saturday 25 November 2017

Photography Workshop: Saturday 2 December 2017

Writing Workshop: Saturday 9 December 2017

 

Exhibit Closing Date:  Sunday 10 December  2017 Time: 6.00PM

Coinciding with Human Rights Day. Recognition of all participants and exhibition of works from the workshops by the participants including drama skit, poetry, photographs, and paintings.

 

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‘Umuokpu’ – Painting by Millicent Osumuo