Her Voice, Her Power
In her placement community in Ogun, Nigeria, Odufuwa’s female students have limited access to information on sex and sexual abuse that leaves them in greater danger of being prey to it. Several students sought Odufuwa out to privately ask questions and solicit counsel on these issues. There was at least one reported incident of sexual abuse at her school. Odufuwa was also troubled by the fact that she knew of some girls in her school community who, as a result of the challenges of living in poverty, exchanged sexual favors for financial and other support. Odufuwa designed her project to address these issues and prevent the devastating impact of them on the education and self-esteem of her girl students.
The specific aim of her project was to equip girl-students with information to better protect themselves from sexual pressure and assault and increase their self-esteem and self-worth through financial empowerment. To do this, Odufuwa designed and facilitated a workshop attended by 90 girls across primary 4 and 5. The workshop included two parts. First, Odufuwa provided girls with information, invited group discussion, and hosted a question and answer session on issues of sex and sexual abuse. This touched upon topics such as the difference in consensual sex and sexual abuse, strategies and tips to protect against sexual assault, and information on what to do in the case that sexual assault occurs. The second part of the workshops shifted to a fun hands-on session for girls to begin to learn and practice basic sewing techniques that could be developed over time to generate income. The girls were divided into small groups, given materials, and provided with modeling and instruction from Odufuwa.
By the end of the workshop, the girls had sewn repairs to tears in their school uniforms and collaboratively made a blackboard duster. Each girl was challenged to create a duster of her own over the holiday break. Following break, Odufuwa plans to host another workshop to continue to address issues of sexual assault. She has continued to support girls by providing emergency sanitary pads and has organized a training session for her co-teachers on child protection.