AFJN conducts educational and training workshops for religious sisters and youth on a variety of different issue areas relevant to that location. During the workshops and trainings the participants are first sensitized on the important issue, they learn how it relates to Catholic Social Teaching, and they practice skills in advocacy. Once they are empowered they are encouraged to focus on an issue area and then educate and advocate for change in their communities and among their peers. AFJN's Women's Empowerment Project has been successful in the creation of a law against Human Trafficking in Edo State Nigeria, has been crucial in educating communities about the SARS-2 Pandemic and the increase in domestic and sexual violence against Women and Children caused by the lockdowns. Sisters have taken to holding virtual meeting and going on the radio in Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana to address these important issues.
AFJN held a Zoom meeting for twenty-five sisters (core group members) to reflect on outreach during lockdown and to discuss expanding the network to include youth. Since the meeting in June, AFJN has held three online two-day training workshops, four hours each day, for Nigerian youth and a joint workshop for high school students in Nigeria and Ghana called “Youth for Change.” In total, 165 youth and 23 sisters and others participated. The workshops exposed the youth to challenges of Africa’s development, violations of the rights and the dignity of the person, human trafficking, domestic and gender-based violence, abuse of the environment, Catholic Social Teachings, and duties and responsibilities of young people in advancing a just society.
Two weeks after the first workshop, AFJN conducted a three hour online evaluation session where participants were asked to share their experience of the workshop. Over 40 participants responded positively to their participation.
- “This training gave me a sense of belonging in this country, speaking out is one of the ways I can give back to society.” – Nigerian Workshop Participant
- “This workshop is amazing […] before now, I see cases of rape on television and social media and I feel little concern for the victims, but after this workshop, I feel I have a responsibility to humanity to be part of the movement to end rape and bring about change in society.” – Nigerian Workshop Participant
- “We are enlightened, poised, and empowered to be agents of change in our local communities, and the world at large.” – Group from Ghana
Activities After the Nigeria and Ghana Workshops
Group created hashtag #WeStandForJustice, Facebook and Twitter accounts Africa Faith and Justice Network Nigeria where they post, messages and flyers to educating the masses on issues of sexual and gender-based violence, urging a break from the culture of silence that sustains both domestic and sexual violence. One of their posts included a flyer highlighting key points of the Nigeria’s Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions Prohibition Bill, using social media as a means of educating the public on the bill and to support the passing of the bill. Currently, the group says they have gained over seven thousand followers.
The sisters were on a radio program one hour per week for two weeks bringing awareness on the evil of human trafficking, sexual violence, and other gender-based violence including domestic violence. The high volume of calls received from the public during the talk show and the passionate appeal from the radio director as well as from some members of the public showed the strong demand from the public to hear the voice of the youth in the public square on these important issues. Here again the sisters were only able to do two programs as was in the budget.
Weekly Youth Chat:
Four participants of the workshop initiated a weekly Google group chat on gender based violence. Starting with only four youth it quickly expanded to over 50 youth across Nigeria. They are providing peer-to-peer education on rape. Seven participants have organized talk shows in their various youth groups to discuss rape and sexual violence and how the youth can be protected as well as help to protect others. Other participants have also shared their plans on how to engage their various youth groups in schools and churches once the lockdown is eased. AFJN is currently working with a participant who mobilized more than 60 youth from his parish for a Zoom workshop. The youth organizer is hoping to lead the group to engage their local leaders on discussions on some of the cultural practices that advance gender-based violence.
Nigerian School Group:
In Nigeria a school group will begin their planned radio programs to tackle traditional parenting styles that sustain gender-based violence. AFJN worked with them to plan an advocate visit to their local environmental minister to demand for a playground adequately equipped to enable young people in their school neighborhood have a good environment for recreation.
Justice for Abused Woman:
AFJN worked with the representatives of the sisters and youth to bring justice to an abused twenty-nine year old woman and her young kids. A youth brought her struggle to the attention of the sisters who helped engage a lawyer, the state police, and the social welfare department after her case was brought up by a youth participant to engaging the lawyer, the state police, and the social welfare department to protect the women and her kids. The unjust tradition would make a woman lose her kids if she walks away from an abusive marriage. Now the woman and her children are protected by both the civil and traditional law.
Education on Sexual and Gender Based Violence in High Schools:
The AFJN-Nigeria sisters and youths have been going around high schools in Anambra State creating awareness on sexual and gender-based violence. They spoke with staff members of Human Rights Commission in the state. Interesting to note – one school’s head wanted payment for the school claiming that the Nigerian government paid the sisters and youth to do this outreach. This is just one example of how important it is to fight for just governance along with these other important issues.
|1||Thu, 17 Jun 2021||AFJN Women’s Empowerment Project Workshops Featured on Catholic Television of Nigeria||View|
|2||Thu, 31 Jan 2019||Africa Faith and Justice Network Women Empowerment in Enugu, Nigeria||View|
|3||Wed, 27 Jul 2016||AFJN Women’s Empowerment: The Story of Sr. Theresa Anyabuike||View|