WHAT WE DO
Our human rights work centers around Advocacy, Human Rights Education, Monitoring and Documentation and Community Paralegal Services.
We collaborate with other activists and organizations on LGBT rights advocacy at national, regional and international human rights forums like the African Commission on Human and People’s Right (ACHPR), and the UN. We co-hosted a regional Human Rights Training Workshop in partnership with UHAI EASHRI and PAN African ILGA in 2015.
Human Rights Education
We provide human rights education to LBQ women in Nigeria whose rights are often violated because they are women and also due to their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. We are able to achieve this through our well trained and well-networked Paralegals and Peer Educators residing in the different geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
Monitoring and Documentation
We monitor, document and report LGBT/women’s rights violations, and use this information as a tool for Advocacy.
Community Paralegal Services
At WHER we provide community paralegal services in which trained paralegals provide first aid legal support to LBQ women in Nigeria and our Gay brothers in Abuja who experience violations and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender expression/ identity. Our paralegal hotline is available 24 hours daily.
LBQ Women’s Health & Well-being
The World Health Organization defines health in its 1948 constitution as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. The stigma and discrimination LBQ women in Nigeria experience greatly affects both their physical and mental well-being and they often have limited to no psychosocial support to mitigate the negative effects.
WHER provides a virtual and physical safe space for LBQ to meet, learn, network, share experiences, and support one another. We also have conducted informal studies about the health/wellbeing needs of LBQ women in Nigeria, the findings were used to design education sessions and offer psychosocial support for LBQ women in Nigeria. We also have recruited and trained peer counselors from 5 geopolitical zones in Nigeria to provide first aid counseling and psychosocial support to their LBQ peers through one-on-one counseling, mental health education, and peer support groups.
Amongst other initiatives, we conducted a Digital and Physical security training titled Getting to safe in 2014. The training created a safe and interactive space for LBQ women to share and explore their security challenges, to learn and discuss about strategies to holistically stay safe in their daily lives in Nigeria.
Women in Nigeria are disproportionately affected by poverty, HIV/AIDS, gender based violence, sexual and reproductive rights abuse and limited access to information and basic health and legal services. Nigeria’s 80.2 million women and girls lack equality of opportunity and therefore have signiﬁcantly worse life chances than men/boys.
Economic independence is an important component of women’s empowerment yet women make up only 21% of the non-agricultural paid labour force of Nigeria. About six million young women and men enter the labour market each year but only 10% are able to secure a job in the formal sector, and just one third of these are women.
Nigeria has one of the lowest rates of female entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa and the majority of women are concentrated in casual, low-skilled, low paid informal sector employment. Only 7.2% of women own the land they farm, which limits their access to credit and constrains entrepreneurship and business activity. Only 15% of women have a bank account. Nigerian girls who enrol in school often leave school earlier than their male counterparts.
Like their heterosexual counterparts, many lesbian, bisexual, queer and other sexual minority women (LBSMW) in Nigeria face similar challenges to obtaining economic independence and improving their life chances. For this reason, they become mostly dependent on relatives for sustenance, turn to transactional relationships with men, or become involved in criminal activities. This more often than not robs them off their sense of autonomy, self-esteem and self-confidence, making it harder for them to accept their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, lead the lives they desire, and to challenge sexist and homophobic norms.
In this disempowering context, there is a great need for interventions that strengthen LBSMW by psychologically empowering them and enhancing their capacity to become financially independent. This would enable them to support each other in living life on their own terms and in resisting and mitigating the effects of gender inequality and homophobia on themselves and other Nigerian women. We have conducted a variety of empowering activities including consciousness raising activities, online discussions and financial empowerment workshops (FEW).