Amplifying the Voices of Young Women using Storytelling for Change: Hope for survivors.

The effort to provide survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) a platform that allows them to share and access stories of encouragement and inspiration to other women should be a daily one. This should be more intensified on International Women’s Day, every year.

Cross-section of Young Women Advocates during their training in Kaduna state

In honour of the International Women’s Day 2020, we launched our “What Was She Wearing” project, a campaign supported by High Commission of Canada to Nigeria in full solidarity of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), most especially, rape. This was alongside an Instagram page dedicated to sharing stories and amplifying voices of survivors, as well as calling the governments of Kaduna and Benue states to implement Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act in these state.

At EVA, we put adolescents and young people, especially, adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) at the centre of our work, and real drivers of change. As a result, we built the capacity of 40 AGYW and later selected 20 of them who will serve as frontliners to contribute to ending violence against women and girls by shifting perceptions, challenging norms and pushing for the implementation of the VAPP Act.

There are questions society asks survivors of SGBV that imply that survivors are directly to blame for the actions of their attackers to commit the assault – “What were you wearing”? “How were you sitting”? EVA is working with 20 young advocates in Kaduna and Benue states to change the negative narrative of victim-blaming by amplifying their voices using images and storytelling.

The Young Women Advocates will be supported to collect stories of female survivors of rape and other forms of SGBV, and the descriptions of what they wore during the assault. This will be done in a bid to show the futility of the questions people often ask survivors and redirect the debate towards the need for better support for survivors. All stories will be told anonymously without fear of stigmatisation.

Social media can facilitate SGBV discourse and create awareness. The advocate will lead their peers in both online and offline campaign to push for the full implementation of the VAPP Act in both states and strengthen their SGBV response system.

The stories collected will climax into state and community level exhibitions which will offer the opportunity to touch the hearts and

Young Women Advocates in Benue during their group work.

minds of key stakeholders –Governors, Commissioners especially of Women Affairs, Health, Justice and  Education, and other decision-makers, to see the need to implement appropriate policies and laws that frowns at SGBV in their states and support survivors.

Change starts with you. You too can be part of this campaign. Follow the campaign page on Instagram WhatWasSheWearing?, and help create a healthier and safer world for girls and women.