THE Lagos State University has partnered with Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom, and the Baobab Human Rights Organisation, to hold capacity-building training for selected members of staff and students of the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo Campus. The training, which was held on Monday, October 9, 2023, had facilitators such as Dr Olawunmi Oni-Buraimoh, Department of English Language, LASU, Dr Macaulay, Department of Philosophy, LASU, and Ann Adidu-Lawal from the Baobab Human Rights Organisation.

A representative of the Baobab Human Rights Organisation, Ann Adidu-Lawal, educated the students about the organisation and the services it offers.

Officers from the Centre for Response and Prevention of Sexual Violence, LASU, were also available to enlighten the participants on the menace of sexual abuse and harassment on the campus while educating them that the University is vehemently against any form of sexual and gender abuse and violence.

Topics discussed during the training include “Developing Self for Change” and “Understanding Basic Concepts of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.” The training also featured group discussion and an introduction to available mentorship programmes.

One of the major objectives of the training is to educate the participants on how they can realise their potential and act  as agents of change.

At the start of the training, pre-assessment questions were administered to the attendees. The pre-assessment questions are?
1. How confident are you in taking the lead in solving any problem in your department/school?
2. Do you think your institution should play any role in the prevention of sexual violence on campus?
3) How helpful do you feel mentorship programs can be on your University campus?

While speaking on developing the self for change, the facilitator, Ann Adidu-Lawal, enlightened the participants on what it means to “take the lead”, adding that there is no age limit to this concept. She also informed the attendees that making a change requires team effort and consistency.

While speaking on the basic concepts of sexual and gender-based violence, anchored by Dr Oni, the attendees identified forms of sexual violence to include sending pornography and sexual content, sending sexual stickers and emojis without consent from the other party, grabbing, and vulgar and sexual talks.

The facilitator also presented the responses from participants on a sexual violence listening session administered at three Lagos State Universities, LASU, LASUED, and LASUSTECH, noting that issues of sexual and gender-based violence can be curbed in tertiary institutions through equitable justice and transparency, the provision of a safer educational environment, and the institutionalisation of sexual violence prevention centres in Universities.

They were then split into groups of five (5) discussants to come up with realistic write-ups that can be used as change makers. Some of the write-ups the discussants came up with include, “Voice Out, “Consent is key” “Greenlights are Assumptions,” “No Means No” “Maybe Means No” and “Yes Means Yes”. They also proposed having sexual and gender-based violence prevention ambassadors in each Faculty to represent the students at the Centre for Response and Prevention of Sexual Violence in the institution.

During group discussions, the discussants generally identified assumption as a major challenge of sexual and gender-based violence. They mentioned that no gesture should be regarded as consent or greenlight until effective communication and verbal consent are established. Another identified issue is the closeness between male lecturers and female students. They averred that generally, the world frowns at a platonic friendship between the opposite genders, which makes friendship limited.

At the end of the training, post-assessment questions were administered to the attendees. These questions are.
1. How confident do you feel now to take up a leadership role?
2. What do you think the school’s responsibilities are in preventing sexual violence?
3. Would you be open to joining a network of mentors and mentees?

The highlight of the training is the introduction of available a network of mentorship Programme which is expected to be launched at the end of the project.

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