An Essential Tool For Activists And Advocates Of Social Justice
By Cognito . On Saturday, December 17, 2022
Compendium Of Learnings On Social Justice: An Essential Tool For Activists And Advocates Of Social Justice
On the 14th of December 2022, the Voice Nigeria Community of Practice on Social Justice commemorated International Human Rights Day with a virtual launch of a Compendium of Learnings from their grant implementation. The event was attended by representatives of different civil society organizations, government agencies and media organisations. The document was developed collaboratively and is expected to provide direction to other potential players in the social justice sector who require it.
Members of the Community of Practice on Social Justice include, the Center for Social Awareness Advocacy and Ethics (CSAAE), Citizens Commons, Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative (YSAD), Foundation for Societal Empowerment and Rejuvenation (FOSER), Youth Hub Africa, and Carmelite Prisoners' Interest Organization (CAPIO).
Earlier in July 2022, the members of the CoP convened a stakeholder meeting to share their experiences and identify their successes and challenges in the course of addressing social injustices in Nigeria through their programs. After the stakeholder meeting held in July, a consultant was engaged by Cognito and Nine, Voice Linking and Learning facilitators, to guide and facilitate the drafting of the document.
Ijeoma Okwor, Country Lead, Voice Program in Nigeria stated that, “People in Nigeria must be made aware of their rights and should take action to uphold those rights. That is why we encouraged the formation of the CoP for social justice and supported the development of this resource document. The Social Justice CoP presents a channel for sustainable conversations and collaboration between stakeholders who promote human rights.”
She further expressed her hope that the Community of Practice would outlive the Voice project and ensure the sustainability of the impact of Voice in the social justice space. She also noted that the #EndSars protest was the defining moment that highlighted the need for a social justice community of practice in the country and expressed her gratitude to the stakeholders who have now formed the community of practice and developed a compendium of their learnings.
Panel Discussion: “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All”
A three-person panel discussion was held in line with the theme of the World Human Rights Day held on 10th December, “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All”. The panelists included Mr David Ikani (Street Project Foundation Ambassador and ARTvocate), Barrister Gambo Yakubu (K.Magaji & Associates and Founder, We Aid Initiative) and Mrs Ukachi Uka (National Human Rights Commission, Imo State Coordinator).
David Ikani described dignity and human rights as an inseparable pair and said that a sense of dignity enables people to hold others to account for their rights. He said that to affirm human rights, human beings need to have the knowledge of the dignity of self. David shared his personal experience as a young person in Nigeria. He was accused of internet fraud by the police and was harassed based on his appearance. His experience is like the experiences of other young people in Nigeria who have been dehumanized based on their looks alone.
Barr. Gambo stated that the freedom of citizens is outlined in detail in Section 2 of the Nigerian constitution and that the freedom of citizens should be guaranteed for any nation to flourish. She stated that the citizens could only exercise freedom if they knew their rights and that abuse and harassment are often tolerated because many people do not understand their rights and freedom as outlined in the constitution. She also said that people are not being held accountable for human rights violations, resulting in more violations. According to Barr. Gambo, the media can be used to enlighten people about their rights.
Mrs. Ukachi Uka from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) described the concept of justice and the commission’s efforts to ensure justice for all. She defined justice as “sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander” and “equal treatment for all”.
The NHRC which is present in all 36 states in Nigeria exists to ensure that every Nigerian that requires justice gets it. She said that the commission has toll lines that Nigerians could call. She further stated that the commission handled complaints of police brutality through its public complaints and inquiry division. She assured participants at the launch that the commission would not settle matters out of court if the matters need to go to court.
Overview of the Compendium of Learning on Social Justice
Mr. Hassan, a member of the Social Justice Community of Practice described the effort that was put into the documentation and also gave highlights from the document. He said, “the members of the CoP work on different issues but towards one goal which is social justice”. He further mentioned that although the COP was formed in August 2021, sharing of ideas and development of the compendium started in earnest during the Linking and Learning event organized by the Voice program in June 2022.
“To develop the compendium, members of the COP identified learning questions and outlined responses to those questions. Members of the COP also outlined their successes, failures and strategies for overcoming those failures which are all included in the document. Members of the CoP selected topics based on their areas of expertise and shared their experiences on the topics that they chose”, he said.
The Compendium was officially launched for use by Mr Obinna Nwagbara who expressed hope that more Nigerians would use the document and be transformed from bystanders to activists. He described Nigeria as a country where social injustice flies as high as the national flag and stated that the information contained in the compendium would contribute to lowering the social injustice flag in Nigeria. He mentioned that the document contains tools for effective social justice advocacy including strategies that can be used to promote social justice like the media and community organising and strategies for advancing social justice in Nigeria.
The document is available for download on the Voice Naija Platform.
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