Why We Exist
In Nigeria, vulnerable groups, especially women, experience high levels of social injustice and human rights violations. Women are disproportionately affected by poverty, HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive rights abuses and limited access to information and basic health and legal services.
Sexual minority women face the dual discrimination of being both women and possessing a sexual orientation or gender identity contrary to Nigerian societal norms. Sexual minority women are made hyper-vulnerable due to the social, traditional, religious, cultural, and legal barriers they face, which have a tremendous impact on the self-esteem and the abilities of these women to develop clear voices and advocate for their basic human rights. The abuse and discrimination experienced by sexual minority women begin within their families and are pervasive in workplaces, educational institutions, health care facilities, social settings and religious institutions.
When experiencing such violations of their rights, these women have limited or no access to legal services and social support. The stigma and discrimination they experience greatly affects their physical and mental well-being resulting in issues such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse predominantly recognized as affecting many sexual minority women. It was out of this pressing need to improve the quality of life for sexual minority women in Nigeria that the Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative (WHER) was conceived in 2010 and eventually established in 2011.
Who We Are
The Women’s Health and Equal Rights (WHER) Initiative is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established with the aim of promoting a deeper conceptual knowledge of sexuality, gender identity, and sexual orientation; providing access to health and other support services to sexual minority women through research, education, training, advocacy, empowerment and other direct services. Our goal is to advance and promote the well-being and equal rights of sexual minority women in Nigeria by addressing the health and psychosocial effects of the dual discrimination (homophobia and sexism) faced by sexual minority women and their underrepresentation in the LGBTQ movement in Nigeria.
WHER Initiative envisions a society that respects, accepts and promotes the self-realization of women regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, status, disability, and age.
WHER Initiative provides a platform for the promotion of the health, well-being and protection of the rights of women through advocacy, education and empowerment.
Aims and Objectives
Provide support and empowerment of sexual minority women in their quest for self-realization.
Work on accomplishing social visibility, or coming out of anonymity and isolation for the purpose of sensitizing the society and reducing homo/bi/transphobia.
Advocate for the rights of other sexual minorities (gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer persons).
Collaborate with other LGBTI and civil society organizations to advocate for changes in policies and legislature to achieve equal rights for LGBTI people as well as heterosexuals.
Provide health education support or referrals to sexual minority women.
Educate sexual minority women on sexuality, gender, and sexual and reproductive Health and Rights.