Bridge Connect Africa Initiative (BCAI) on Monday 15th March 2021 received the Acting Canadian High Commissioner, Mr. Nicolas J. Simard along with the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Connected Development (CODE), Mr. Hamzat Lawal and other delegates of the Canadian High Commission at their office in Kano to discuss the progress and the impact of the ongoing GMAAK project.
The Founder and Executive Director of BCAI, Mr. Sani Muhammad while welcoming the High Commissioner and other delegates, gave an overview of the work BCAI has been doing over the years to promote Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and the organization’s efforts to curb Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the State.
He went further to intimate the delegates on how BCAI has been at the forefront in the struggle to create a conducive and safer environment for the vulnerable groups particularly children, women and girls. While recollecting BCAI’s first policy advocacy on the domestication of Child Protection Bill and its relentless effort towards the passage of the Bill in Kano State.
“Kano State is regarded as the heart of northern Nigeria and any positive change recorded in Kano spreads across other Arewa communities”, Sani said.
Speaking on the ongoing ‘Galvanizing Mass Action Against GBV in Kano’ (GMAA-K) Project implemented by Connected Development (CODE) with support from Canadian High Commission in Nigeria, Sani recalls how BCAI’s partnership with CODE has yielded the recorded success so far.
“We are using the resources and the opportunities given to us by the Canadian High Commission to ensure that we galvanize mass action and we are really seeing great progress based on the evaluation reports” Sani said.
The Senior Programs Officer of BCAI, Fatima Musa, gave a comprehensive briefing of the organization’s advocacy efforts for the enactment and implementation of the Child Protection Bill and VAPP Act while leveraging on the GMAA-K Project. She recounted some of the activities carried out by the 30-Trained Gender Advocates empowered to galvanize mass action through robust offline and online sensitization, and engagement of relevant stakeholders.
“As one of the 30 Trained Gender Advocates, the advocate under the leadership of BCAI’s Executive Director, Sani Muhammad along with the Project Officer in Kano, Abbas Adamu paid advocacy visits to the Attorney General, Honorable Speaker, National Human Rights Commission, Legal Aid Council, and Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Kano State” She said.
She commented further that through the radio program running every week in English on Cool FM 96.1 and Hausa language on Arewa Radio 93.1, the advocates along with invited special guest continue to educate the public about Gender-Based Violence, issues surrounding it, the legal framework and how victims and survivors of GBV can access support services.
“Our Digital Campaign Officer, Mubarak Idris, has been instrumental in amplifying the activities carried out by the Trained Gender Advocates through social media engagements and publications”, she concluded.
To address the concerns of the Canadian High Commissioner, Mr Simard, on how sensitive comments and questions are being managed to avoid conflict, Sani reiterated BCAI’s commitment to safe work environment policy and how the organization is mindful of the religious and cultural sensitivity of Kano state.
“We understand the importance of religion and culture, and the key role they play. So one of the ways we galvanize the public against some of these practices is to go through religious scholars and traditional rulers, and make them understand the goal of the project.”
“We consult traditional and religious leaders in framing our message and whenever the need requires, we put them at the forefront of our campaigns because we believe that culture and religion is made to serve people and not the other way round”, He said.
While commenting on the GMAA-K Radio Program, Mr. Hamzat Lawal stressed the need for GMAA-K champions to be fully equipped in order to give positive response, especially when it is coming from religious scholars and traditional leaders in order to ensure that the goal of the project is met. “We are concerned with our messages, and as advocates we should not be confrontational”, he advised.
In furtherance to that, Sani noted that for every information BCAI put out there, it is backed-up with factual data. “We always thrive to ensure that the anchors of the GMAA-K radio program are drawn from local communities and are fully trained and equipped to answer and tackle sensitive comments.
“The project has been able to expose GMAA-K Champions to the range of issues around Gender-Based Violence so that they are able to speak up in meetings and engagements that generally protects survivors, ensuring that people access justice and harmful practices are curbed” he concludes.