“Protect Students From Sexual Harassment”, Expert Task Stakeholders At Ward C-LASU Consultative Forum
With the alarming increase in reports of rape and other forms of sexual violence in recent times, experts have called on all stakeholder in the education sector to put systems, structures and policies in place to protect students against all forms of sexual and gender-based violence in higher institutions in Nigeria.
This was the fall-out of the Day One of a Consultative Forum organized by Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre (WARDC), a non for profit civil rights organisation in partnership with the Lagos State University tagged Consultative Forum on System Strengthening Against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Educational Institutions with Critical Stakeholders.
The two-day event, which commenced today, Tuesday, 9th February, 2021 at the Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja, provided a platform for experts in the SGBV field, from within and outside the academia, to commingle ideas in a bid to seek a lasting solution to the challenge on campuses.
According to Bar. Nihinola Aluko-Olokun, Chairman, Board of Directors, WARDC, the consultative forum is aimed at supporting the Lagos State University and other tertiary institutions across the country in strengthening the fight against sexual and gender-based violence.
In her welcome address, Aluko-Olokun, noted that sexual and gender based violence cuts across all genders, class and cultures, and has serious consequences for the victims, including low self-esteem, depression, early pregnancies an sexually transmitted infections. She added that SGBV is capable of adversely affecting students’ ability to achieve their potentials and as such, stakeholders must be united in seeking an end to it in tertiary institutions.
In her words, “this project collaborates with key stakeholders in the education sector to support standard operating procedures and policy guidelines to support sexual and gender base violence prevention in higher institutions. We are taking it across six institutions where there exists sexual harassment policies and the Lagos State University is the first on our list.”
In his address, the Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oyedamola Oke, expressed his appreciation to the WARDC team for partnering the university in the laudable programme.
Prof. Oke, who was represented by the Director of the University’s Open and Distance Learning and Research Institute, Prof. Sena Bakre, said the university has zero tolerance for SGBV and that informed the formulation of a strong policy on sexual harassment.
“We are on the same page with WARDC and we already have a team working on issues of sexual harassment and we are sure that your coming will add impetus to the work of the team. We will give you all support on this programme”, he said.
The Coordinator, LASU Career Development Centre, Dr. Igot Ofem, revealed that the WARDC’s choice of LASU as the first institution to hold the Consultative Forum was based on many reasons: “LASU has a strong sexual harassment policy, a Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Preventive and Response Team, and is also the first university to be nominated by the United Nations Spotlight initiative to formulate a gender-based policy to be used by all tertiary institutions in Nigeria”, she said, while welcoming participants to the forum.
The programme featured two technical sessions, the first handled by the duo of Prof. Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos and Dr. Abiola Akiyode, Executive Director, WARDC and the second handled by Prof. Oladupupo Olusola, Director, Sandwich Degree Programme, LASU and Dr. Dosunmu Simeon, Department of Educational Foundations and Counselling Psychology, Faculty of Education, LASU.
The papers were followed by interactive sessions involving the participants, which included representatives of relevant Faculties, Departments and Units in the University, even as the organizers promised to put the ideas together into policy documents for the relevant authorities.
The Vote of Thanks was delivered by the University Registrar, Mr Olayinka Amuni, who was represented by the Director, Directorate of Academic Planning, Mrs. Olanrewaju John-Olanrewaju