All over Nigeria, key populations are daily facing huge challenges revolving greatly around HIV and human rights abuses. Stigma and discrimination are not the smallest of these challenges, as they impact people’s ability to access HIV prevention services.

As part of our strategy to strengthen institution and individuals capacity, all Education as a Vaccine (EVA) staff across state offices, including the headquarters in Abuja, were gathered together for a diversity training in Abuja, its headquarters on Friday, 23rd February.

The purpose of the training was to improve the knowledge and understanding of sexual diversity, provide ‘sensitive’ HIV services to key populations, particularly issues concerning Key populations in Nigeria, while improving staff members’ sensitivity to facilitate access to HIV prevention interventions and services.

The Program and Business Development Manager, Population Council, Olusegun Sangowawa, with his extensive experience in sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights issues, took the staff through the robust training.

The Executive Director of Education as a Vaccine, Olabukunola Williams, in her opening remark, stated that, EVA being an organization that works with adolescents and young people, with focus on upholding their sexual and reproductive health and rights, cannot assume that young people all have similar challenges. “We need to put them in our planning, implementation, and share lesson learnt with them for a better understanding of the work EVA does”, she added.

According to Sangowawa, while speaking on “Key Population Sensitivity” there is a need to respect each other’s differences, “…we are diverse in language, culture, socio-economic and educational status, sexual orientation …and religious background”, adding that, “if you do not understand differences, then, there is contention”.

Dishing out his points on “Why Understand Human Sexuality?”, he said that understanding human behaviour will provide the necessary background required to further keep up with key populations, and allow for improved service delivery. “Individual risk factors of key populations are associated with sexual behaviour”, Sangowawa buttressed.

Speaking on common gender stereotypes, he noted that gender is not fixed as it is changing, just the way our society changes. He added that, “…the concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect, as each individual is unique and different”.

Before that day, all members of the staff had filled a self-assessment survey to provide the facilitator with the different predispositions towards diversity held by the participants.

The training was educative and interactive, as participants were provided with information that informed their thinking and value systems.

At the end of the training, the staff at the training said that the diversity training opened their eyes to know more about themselves and learn to respect the orientations of both their colleagues and the individuals to whom they provide services.