Hemispheres: Reducing Violence Against Women in Nigeria

Efforts to Support The Elimination of Violence Against Women in Nigeria and Strengthen Women’s Rights Internationally

Nwankwo has long been visibly proactive and energetic in her efforts to engage in legislative advocacy towards the enforcement of women’s human rights. One of her most successful initiatives is an annual Women’s Human Rights Tribunal held in Nigeria in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25th. The tribunals expose violations of women’s human rights in traditional practices and present recommendations for ways to redress these violations, and are followed up with legislative advocacy at local and national levels.

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Obiageli Nwankwo is the Executive Director of the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre, based in Enugu, Nigeria. They work to assist women to acquire a basic knowledge of the laws that affect them in their daily lives, and publish legal education materials to enhance legal literacy in society. The Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre also promotes access to justice by providing free legal services to those that cannot otherwise afford to pay for them.

On Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights, she collaborates with the UN in a project to increased access to family planning services by women and adolescent girls. The aim is to increase demand for and supply of modern contraceptives and improve quality of family planning services that are free from coercion, discrimination and violence.

She is currently engaging the legislature towards adopting the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. (CEDAW) and the African Women’s Protocol.  Host Nikki Kayser caught up with Obi to hear about her work as she was on her way to the July Session of CEDAW. Through working closely with legislature, Nwankwo seeks to ensure that these landmark measures that protect and promote women and girls get integrated into policies and customs on a national and district level. This courageous work will benefit women and girls for generations to come.

Specifically, Obi is the co-focal person on sexual and reproductive health information and services at the convention, trying to get countries to pass articles that deal with FGM, HIV, gender based violence and health.  The Committee holds state parties accountable on their duty to ensure women’s right to safe motherhood and emergency obstetric services. On the issue of abortion, the committee encourages state parties to remove punishment in their laws on abortion and grant women access to abortion under four conditions: rape, incest, risk to the health and life of the woman, and severe fetal malformation.

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