Recognised as OrangeChamp by US Embassy

By Sola Ogundipe

Akiyode-Afolabi advocates for women’s rights to body integrity

The Chairman of Nigeria’s foremost civil society coalition, the Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, has said that every Nigerian woman and indeed women all over the world deserve rights to their body integrity if the world is to be free of violence against women.

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Akiyode-Afolabi who is the Founding Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center, WARDC, and was named #OrangeChamp by the US Embassy, Nigeria, along with several other prominent Nigerian women, also appealed to President Donald Trump to review the Global Gag Rule, GGR, which she said has impacted negatively on the support for women’s reproductive health.

Describing the US Embassy recognition of some Nigerian women activists in the period of the 16-days Activism as a welcome development, the prominent lawyer and co-Convener, #Womanifesto19 however urged the US government to do more to support women in developing countries have access to contraceptives.

Her words: “I would like to speak to the Global Gag Rule and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights as these affect us as women. I appeal to the US government, President Donald Trump to take another look at the GGR, which for some time now has reduced support for women reproductive health.

“We want the government to relax that rule and allow every woman especially those in the developing countries have right of access to make informed reproductive health choices for the integrity of their bodies.

“The US government needs to do more in supporting women in the third world countries to have more access to contraceptives by reinstating those funds withdrawn from some providers on account of the GGR. Women the world over deserve rights to their body integrity. Such freedom is desired as we aim for a world free of violence against women,” Akiyode-Afolabi asserted.

On her recognition as #Orange Champ she described it as recognition of all women that are leading advocacy efforts against gender-based violence.

“I woke up to see my name everywhere and I was pleasantly shocked and surprised too. This is not the first time I am receiving an award or recognition but for me this is a particular recognition that has come in an unusual way and from a very credible source as US government.

“The recognition is an acknowledgment of the work WARDC and services are doing. We women activists do some of the things we do selflessly, without knowing some other people are watching and appreciative of our work and the passion we invest in the work. The results contribute to transforming the society. The recognition is therefore dedicated to everyone working to end violence against women and girls. It is recognition for all of us.

Akiyode-Afolabi who sits on the Board of the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria, NRHJN, noted that the fact that the recognition is coming during the 16 days of Activism is also instructive of the US government commitments to ending violence in Nigeria.

“For me, there is still much work to be done. I am particularly inspired by the number of young people that are recognised by the US Embassy and this is inspiring to those of us who have been in the work for over 20years that the baton will soon go to much younger women.

“It is actually profiling of different women who are really committed to ensuring women in Nigeria who suffer violence in one form or the other have their voices heard and justice is done. These women are those who have at one point or the other taken actions on behalf of other women to get justice for their plight some of such women today are survivors. Honestly, there are many more,” she said.

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