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Ford Foundation earmarks $6.5 million to help ICPC, and others prevent sexual harassment in Nigerian schools, workplace 

The Ford Foundation has revealed that for 2024, it earmarked $6.5 million to enable the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission(ICPC), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and others, prevent gender-based violence(GBV) including sexual harassment in Nigerian tertiary institutions, schools and workplace.  

Dabesaki Mac-Ikemenjima, Ford Foundation’s senior Program Officer, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with Nairametrics on Tuesday.  

He made the disclosure on the sidelines of the  National Stakeholder Engagement on Sexual Harassment Prevention in Tertiary Institutions, organized by the ICPC and Gender Mobile Initiative. 

Ford Foundation’s support against GBV in Nigeria 

Mac-Ikemenjima, in an exclusive interview with Nairametrics, said the private foundation has funded ICPC in the past for a range of things but also for the work related to addressing sexual harassment in “higher education and in the workplace.”  

He assured that the foundation will continue to work with relevant stakeholders including the ICPC and Gender Mobile Initiative, on the issue of sexual harassment in higher education.  

Just to say that for this year, the pool of resources from our work on preventing gender based violence (including sexual harassment) in any of these (Nigerian) institutions, will be about $6.5 million, altogether,” Mac-Ikemenjima added.  

He explained that while the financial resources are aimed at assisting stakeholders in addressing sexual harassment as effectively as possible, there have to be some reflections around the frameworks that govern how universities create policies and structures to support instances where there are reports of sexual harassment or GBV.  

Mac-Ikemenjima expressed hope that the policy draft on sexual harassment as championed by ICPC and other stakeholders, would be a win-win for the nation’s education sector if approved by legislators and the executive.  

“I think the broad thing about student experiences in higher education is the question around assessment but assessment for the most part is the factor that defines the power relationship between students and the faculty.  

“And then the questions around the behaviour of third parties who don’t necessarily have that kind of interface with students. I think all of those were taken into account in the policy draft.  

“So, in that sense, the institutions just need to factor those things when they implement because as you know, each institution will take a very different approach to it,” he said.  

ICPC, NGO speak on moves against SGV 

The Chairman of ICPC, Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu (SAN) told the participants at the event that only a consistent, persistent, focused, and united campaign can ensure that the challenge of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions is decisively addressed.  

He said with the support of the Ford Foundation, the Commission held a series of engagements with stakeholders in the basic education and tertiary education sectors to sanitize them regarding anti-GBV measures, adding the office and other stakeholders have gone further to draft a modern central policy for these institutions. 

The policy is aimed at tightening the penalties for those convicted of sexual harassment.  

While sexual harassment is more notorious in tertiary institutions, it is also rampant in primary and secondary schools.  

“In the spirit of partnership, the Commission partnered with Gender Mobile to draft a modern policy for tertiary institutions. The Federal Ministry of Education approved the policies for primary and tertiary institutions, ” he said.  

The Executive Director of Gender Mobile Initiative, Omowumi Ogunrotimi, told the press that in Nigeria when policies are made, it does not automatically translate into implementation. 

She called for the finalized policy to be institutionalized at the sub-national level so that state commissioners for education can embed it into their own state framework to see that every higher education institution in their state is free from sexual harassment.  

Ford Foundation has been a frontline donor to multiple projects in Nigeria, running into millions. 

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