By Josephine Agbonkhese
No fewer than forty women’s rights defenders are currently undergoing a two-day capacity-building training on communication skills and public speaking in Lagos.
Organised by the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, WARDC, the training, which kicked-off on Monday, is an EU-UN Spotlight Initiative project aimed at strengthening civil society organisations and women on gender-based violence/sexual and reproductive health rights.
According to Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Executive Director, WARDC, “this training is aimed at ensuring women’s rights defenders are able to effectively engage leaders; particularly religious leaders.
“We will be learning how to communicate effectively with religious leaders in order to end violence against women and girls, as well as other harmful practices.
“Religious leaders play very important roles in our communities. They are highly respected people and are very influential in shaping attitudes and practices.
“Given their sphere of influence, they need to be co-opted as agents of social change in their communities, speaking against female genital mutilation, early marriages, widowhood practices, the denial of girls’ rights to education and all forms of violence against women and girls.
“We acknowledge that there are religious leaders whose approaches and practices reinforce gender injustice.
“Hence the need to understand how best to educate and communicate with them for effective partnerships,” Akiyode-Afolabi told Vanguard at the event.
Speaking on day-one of the training, which had over 40 participants in attendance, the facilitator, Lanre Arogundade, Director, International Press Centre, IPC, who spoke on the art of impactful communication and effective speaking, said women’s rights defenders must strive to understand their audience if communication must be carried out effectively.
He said: “The core of communication is your message. Your purpose should, therefore, determine your message.
“Know what you want to achieve. Be mindful of your time and also remember to be short and sharp.
“Avoid excessive protocols and unnecessary distractions. Highlight what you want the person to do and endeavour to use simple language.”