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Disrupting The Silence With Respect To Gender based Violence (GBV): A Powerful Discourse

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Gender based Violence Photo (Image: AllAfrica)

Gender based Violence (GBV) is not particularly gender specific and can be defined as any act of violence that can result in physical, sexual, psychological harm and suffering. This includes coercion or a forced act, which leads to an arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Gender based Violence has been, and continues to be a social ill with far-reaching repercussions

A Global Perspective

According to the WHO report in 2021, there are an estimated 736 million women that suffer from Gender based Violence (GBV) globally. Almost one in every three women will suffer from acts of Gender based Violence (GBV) and/or have experienced violence starting from 15years and older. Unfortunately, most violence against women is perpetrated by either current/former husbands or intimate partners. Of which, one in four are adolescent girls aged 15 to 19.

Attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, calls to helplines have increased five-fold in some countries as rates of reported intimate partner violence increase. UN women have stated that the restricted movement, social isolation, and economic insecurity during the pandemic have led to a global increase in women’s vulnerability to violence. To curb this, by September 2020, 52 countries had integrated prevention and response to violence against women and girls into COVID-19 response plans, and 121 countries had adopted measures to strengthen services for women survivors of violence during the global crisis. However, more efforts are urgently needed. 

An African Perspective

The impact of GBV; the most prevalent human rights violation in the world, on individuals is typically glaring. However, there’s another complex impact that is often ignored – the socio-economic impact. 

African countries with the highest rates of gender-based violence, such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Liberia and Zimbabwe cannot afford any further economic challenges. This makes it imperative for such countries to seek and implement policies and legislation to fight against gender-based violence.

A South African Perspective

In South Africa a report published by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and acknowledged by the Institute for Security Studies, which covers the period between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, reveals an increase of reported GBV cases compared to previous years. The number of reported sexual offences increased to 52,420 in 2018/19 from 50,108 in 2017/18, most of which were cases of rape.

The reluctance of boys and men that suffer from GBV to speak out (in a bid to create awareness and highlight issues) further compounds the situation. GBV affects women, girls, men, boys and the LGBTQ+ communities.  There needs to be more research, more empirical evidence to carry forward policies, advocacy and strategies to assist, prevent and intervene in GBV against boys and men, the LGBTQ+ community,  women and girls. 

A Zimbabwean Perspective On GBV

According to UNFPA in Zimbabwe, about 1 in 3 women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and about 1 in 4 women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. Reports of domestic violence, child marriage, violence by state officials and armed guards, online abuse and other forms of GBV have increased globally and regionally during the pandemic, and Zimbabwe is no exception to this trend (SAFE, 2020). 

In response to GBV cases, Zimbabwe through a multi stakeholder approach has been able to help the survivors. The Victim Friendly Unit of the Zimbabwe Republic Police has been allowing both males and females to report mainly physical violence and they have been able to refer cases for further help. NGOs like the Institute of Women Social Workers have been providing psycho-social support to the survivors and are referring such survivors to other organizations like Women and Law in Southern Africa for legal help. Further to this, survivors are referred to Adult Rape Clinic and Musasa project for medical help and safe shelters respectively. Social workers in Zimbabwe have been able to provide counselling despite the shortage of resources and have also supported the survivors with economic empowerment activities. 

Despite these efforts, men and boys are always left out because of the stigma and Attitude that the service providers have towards men in relation to GBV. 

GBV In The Context Of Domestic Abuse In A Relationship

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviours that frighten, intimidate, terrorise, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together, or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

The Warning Signs In A Relationship Likely To Have Elements Of Domestic Abuse?

 Self- care is a self-regulatory mechanism where one intentionally puts effort and measures towards their well-being. Well-being would affect and be affected by the different aspects of one’s life and the choices they make. GBV does not just happen, in most cases that are subtle or obvious signs that in more often people choose to ignore for many other reasons.

Violence against women happens across a spectrum, and at the end of that spectrum in most cases, is a man who snapped or a man who violates someone or their partner because they have inherent habits of violence. It should therefore be noted that we all have the power to remedy such behaviours in order to implement societal change. 

Red Flags To Pick Up At The Pre-Relationship Stage

At the beginning of a relationship, there is such bliss, so much love and uncontrollable emotions that often cloud one’s clear judgement. Looking for early warning signs is not so easy, especially if there are underlying issues that could potentially hinder mental clarity and most people tend to not want to be realistic, but to rather get lost in the bliss of the long-awaited ‘force’ of love. During the early stages, where partners are still learning and exploring one another, there is a lot of uncertainty, which makes it a little bit difficult to do a proper due diligence due to influx of emotions, sexual and physical ‘forces’ at the start of relationship.  In most cases, this is where some of the issues that later emerge are missed.

Some of the things that one can do, to have an idea of who a person is, especially if they are seeking a more stable relationship, include the following:  

  • Establishing the values of the other person and engaging beyond the surface,
  • Asking questions to get to understand the person before committing,
  • Things such as life goals, values, belief systems, their past experiences, family background, and their intentions, 
  • Listening with extra care what a person says, to establish how they view life and their approaches to making it work. e.g., biased views on the roles of women and men,
  •  Unpredictability, failing to fulfill set promises etc.
  • Establishing underlying signs of traits such as jealousy, elements of possessiveness, a bad temper with others, impatience and a sense of entitlement. These are some of the ways of determining personalities, characters and habits that would likely lead to domestic abuse. For example, determining if a person has narcissist tendencies could be hard to pick up instantly, because  there is a list of traits that come together to create this unpleasant personality.

Red Flags During The Relationship Can Be Explored Through The Use Of The Power – Control Wheel (DULUTH Model)

During the relationship one must explore the power and control wheel which in this phase/during the relationship is easier to determine whether there are signs of domestic abuse. The wheel has been used to describe and explain domestic situations of battered women. We have seen through numerous research that GBV is progressive and occurs over a spectrum. It all starts with mild gestures that most people deem as acceptable such as harmless remarks, condescending comments here and there, excuses towards responsibilities and the likes. It then escalates to plain verbal utterances, clear and precise control which then escalate to physical and in extreme cases, loss of mental perspective or life. 

Post Relationship

A personal reflection of a GBV survivor, highlights the importance of redefining focusing on better decision-making, learning from mistakes, and healing to ensure that one can better position themselves to build better and more meaningful connections in the future. 

With this said it is important to empower women and to provide them with tools to get themselves out of disempowering situations. However, this should not equate to the disempowerment of men or boys, it should rather create a space to safeguard all rights and to also include men in the narrative to provide methods and means to reduce the dire effects of GBV. This should not leave the boy child bare and unattended, or the man left behind without creating mechanisms to navigate related issues or hidden suffering..

Conversations With Men In Respect Of GBV In Men And LGBTQ Community

GBV amongst men can begin at a very early age in childhood when a parent or caregiver was meant to display characteristics of love and nurture, instead the poor child was presented with maltreatment and abuse. 

Let’s take a moment to imagine the scenario wherein;

“A young boy growing up in a household that is physically and emotionally abusive. His caregivers might hit, slap choke him and on other days he is being insulted, humiliated and sexually abused. These experiences end up being normal to him. He sees nothing wrong with such behaviour and has become desensitised to this life – that becomes the normal frame of his world view as a male adult.”

This is the hidden suffering of boys and men, wherein no one really talks about such experiences. These assaults are frequently not reported, thus creating a perception that GBV and SGBV only occurs to women. Furthermore, some people in the LGBTQ+ community fear being ostracised and humiliated by their microsystems, their communities and even their peers.

There are many cases where men don’t report being abused due to the lack of education, information and advocacy on such concerns. Men who do experience daily abuse often chose not to speak up because it may reduce perceived masculinity. These are the societal factors that influence the decision making to remain silent – Such are his family, education, beliefs and community. 

On the contrary, men who have experienced rape, sexual abuse, violence and choose to speak out might not be taken seriously because the law enforcement does not escalate these issues because they don’t believe a male victim could go through such. Some communities find it shocking, taboo and unbelievable for men to be victims of GBV and SGBV.

The stereotypes of what it means to be a “hegemonic man” don’t give space for men to speak up about GBV and this remains a hidden issue which results in lack of research, advocacy and strategy. So far, the research done indicates that the GBV impacts men in various ways, such as using violence as a means to an end. The symptoms of GBV amongst men contributes to the overwhelming factor of GBV against women and girls. Concurrently Gender based Violence amongst men continues to be a topic that society doesn’t advocate enough.

We Need To “Stop Victim Blaming” And Rather Refer To Survivors-Reset The Narrative

“Victim-blaming” is a general term used to describe a situation where the victims are blamed for the events they experienced. In the paper written by Schwark & Bohner in 2019 defined “Victim-blaming” in discourses related to GBV tends to implicate victims and position them as responsible for their own safety, with little or nothing being said about the perpetrators’ actions. This myth, one of many “rape myths”, is reinforced by mainstream media reporting.

The meaning attached to the term “victim”, to label people who endured GBV and abuse, is increasingly considered problematic and replaced in activists’ and allies’ vocabulary with the term “survivor”, which reverses the power balance. While the term “victim” equates the existence of a person to their experience with trauma and places them in a position of vulnerability, the term “survivor” implies a future ahead. It is within this premise that we argue for the term “survivor” in such contexts instead of the term “victim” may have an impact on the misattributed judgement of blame and in turn improve reporting across the board for all those that are affected by GBV.

Help Mechanisms Include: 

  • Support programs – Family and Marriage Society of south Africa (FAMSA) for counselling.
  • Tears Foundation for CRISIS interventions.
  • The Trauma Centre for trauma counselling, and the Thuthuzela Care Centres, which are the anti-rape strategy centres to help victims from secondary victimisation.
  • Helping victims and survivors with self-help programs – individual development, counselling and coaching to rebuild and restore hope in their lives- Changing Lanes Africa-: Self-awareness courses for women.
  • This is normally through shelters, which in South Africa to a large extent, are much better resourced than in other African countries which may have many challenges with providing adequate support.
  • Talk about your experiences to help others- Simanye Clinic Podcasts and Conversations with my brothers.

KEY TAKE HOME MESSAGE

  • To have boundaries and enforce them from the on-set.
  • Be realistic and don’t ignore red flags.
  • Reposition yourself for better life.
  • Use protection orders and maintenance orders to safeguard your rights.
  • Remember you are a survivor.
  • Every one of us should educate the youth about such issues and how they can be avoided or at the least alleviate the burden of GBV.
  • Men should be included in the solution to reduce violence against women and children
  • Men and members of the LGBTQ+ community also suffer from GBV but there are few to no statistics as they remain silent- the hidden suffering.
  • GBV should not be seen as something that happens to specific people, rather should be addressed across the spectrum within which it occurs.

Acknowledgements 

We acknowledge Dr Maribanyana Lebeko who is part of the advisory for Simanye Clinic for his assistance with respect to compilation, editing and proofreading of this article.

 

Article By: Thandiwe Maretlane, Lindo Radebe, Linah Ruparanganda and Chiedza Jowa and Dr Kim Lamont-Mbawuli. In collaboration with the National Association of Social workers, Zimbabwe and Simanye Clinic, South Africa.

 

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Onboarding Strategies Transforming Businesses in Africa

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By Darlyn Okojie (Photo: shutterstock)

People are the most important aspect of any organisation. Whether they are your team members or your customers, they remain a critical component of your organisation. As a result, how you onboard; recruit, welcome, and manage has a significant impact on their performance.

Employee onboarding is the process of smoothing the transition from new hire to team member. A great onboarding system causes your team to be productive and engaged as quickly as possible because they feel welcome and connected to the culture.

It also helps your organisation to generate goodwill, increase retention, and ultimately create value in the form of employee productivity and loyalty.

Here are features of a great onboarding that is transforming businesses from zero to 100 in Africa;

Making a great first impression

Your first impression or how you welcome a new employee forms the foundation of their perception of your organisation. Take note of the peculiarities of the position vacant, and provide a welcoming system that suits this position. A tech startup should not present a new developer or programmer with voluminous physical paperwork to fill out; this type of onboarding demonstrates disconnection from this specific employee. Instead, new hires in this kind of field should be engaged via digital platforms and software.

New employees’ welfare

Also, welcoming new team members with welfare packages demonstrates how thoughtful you are and how much they are valued. Most religious organisations understand this concept of onboarding, they prepare a first-timer pack for newcomers. This pack typically includes snacks and information about the organisation. 

Some organisations budget some funds for transportation or data support for new team members. This helps to get things started on a great note, especially for those who have been out of work for some time.

A welcome kit for new employees is always a good idea for onboarding. Memo.Africa provides this as one of its products and services. With a single click, you can have a welcome kit delivered to your newest hire to make their transition into your organisation as smooth and memorable as possible. Memo.Africa will have their package delivered to them whether they are physically or remotely working in other cities, countries, or even continents. This type of gesture instills in new hires a sense of commitment and the need to go above and beyond for the organisation.

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Give team members tailored experience

Just as the onboarding process or experience should be an expression of your organization’s brand and culture, it should also be specific to the role your new employee will be taking on. Every irrelevant, extraneous question or process on a generic screen leaves a negative impression of your organisation’s brand. Every missing detail and wasted effort frustrate your new employee.

You need a solution that makes it easy to offer every employee a personalized experience that can be updated as needs arise. One of the ways of achieving this on a large scale, is to create a tailored experience for various departments in your organisation. Most people in the same department or unit share similar career demands and needs. Hence, it is easier to reach a larger number of people with tailored experience through this approach.

In conclusion, these are some of the strategies helping businesses get the most from new hires. Regardless of the size of your organisation, whether you are a solo entrepreneur, you need this knowledge to interact with customers, or you are a startup or an established business, you need this information to engage both your employees and customers. With just a click, Memo.Africa will take this burden off you. Regardless of where your customers or employees are in the world, Memo.Africa will reach them.

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Commercialisation of NNPCL and Corporate Governance

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NNPCL Unveiling (Images: Supplied)

Commercialisation is the reorganisation of enterprises wholly or partly owned by the government in which such commercialised enterprises shall operate as a profit-making commercial venture without subvention from the government.  Corporate Governance is the interaction between various participants (shareholders, board of directors, and company’s management) in shaping a corporation’s performance. The term corporate governance has become a well-accepted corporate parlance all over the world and this is because of the vital role it plays in today’s economy in terms of fostering economic growth, sustainable development and for the growth of a healthy corporate sector.

On Tuesday July 19, 2022 President Muhammadu Buhari officially unveiled the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPC) in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 to enable it run effectively and compete with its global peers and allow private investors own shares in the new company. With the recent historic passage of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 (the PIA). There have been significant changes introduced by the Act. They are: 

  1. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is taking on a new legal status as Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL). it is changing from a government agency to a limited liability company. The Act provides for incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 as a private company limited by shares. NNPC will assume the assets, interests and liabilities of the former Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. This is provided under section 54(1) of the PIA Act. 
  2. NNPC Limited will carry out petroleum operations on a commercial basis like private companies in Nigeria. This is provided under 64(a) PIA 2021. The idea is that NNPCL should run as a commercial entity, driven to make profits like any other company without recourse to government’s funds and generally be regulated by the CAMA. 
  3. Also, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) will eventually be listed on the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), to enable Nigerians and investors own shares in NNPCL. When this happens, we can say NNPC has been privatised. For now, it has not been privatized yet. 
  4. Section 55(3) PIA 2021 provides that ownership of shares of NNPCL are vested in the Government to be held by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated and the Ministry of Petroleum Incorporated in equal portions on behalf of the Federation.
  5. PIA provides for corporate governance standards.

Section 61(1) of the PIA expressly provides for CG. It provides thus: “Members of the Board of NNPC Limited shall discharge their responsibilities in accordance with highest standards, practices and principles of Corporate Governance”.

The principles of CG are also provided under CAMA 2020. In accordance with the provisions of PIA 2021, NNPC Limited would generally be regulated by the CAMA, therefore other corporate requirements applicable under CAMA will also apply to NNPCL. This means that principles of corporate governance under CAMA are applicable to NNPCL. 

In the same vein, Section 62 of the PIA provides that Members of the Board of NNPC Limited shall discharge their responsibilities in accordance with the highest standards, practices and principles of corporate governance and shall ensure that its annual audit is conducted by an independent, competent, experienced, and qualified, auditor. Section 63 of the PIA also provides for specific responsibilities aimed at enhancing the commercial operations and best governance structure of the NNPC Limited.

Also, principles of CG are provided under the Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance 2018. The code is aimed at institutionalizing corporate governance practices.

Since section 61(1) of the PIA provides for compliance with CG principles, it can be reasonably implied that NNPCL might choose to comply with principles of CG under the NCCG 2018.

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The code provides for 28 principles, sixteen (16) of which relate to the Board of Directors and Officers of the Board; 4 concerning risk management, whistle blowing and audit processes ;3 on relationship with shareholders; 2 on ethical conduct of business (which extol establishment of policies and mechanisms for monitoring insider trading, related party transactions, conflict of interest and other corrupt activities); 1 on sustainability and 2 on transparency. The summary of these principles of corporate governance in Nigeria is on how to make those in the management of the companies more accountable, responsible and sensitive to the interest of shareholders, the interest of creditors and members of the public.

NNPC has not done great financially over the years. It seems to have only been profitable in 2 (or 3) years, out of its 45 years of existence. Despite being a major source of revenue, the oil sector lags other sectors in terms of GDP contribution. One of the reasons is that CG culture in NNPC has been very poor over the years. While it is commendable that the PIA has been enacted, it is important to note that if the principles of CG are not complied with by NNPCL, NNPCL might fail to achieve its aim . For instance, companies like Baring (UK), WorldCom, and Enron (USA) failed due to poor CG. In Nigeria, the last two decades witnessed the failure of many financial and non-financial firms such as Intercontinental Bank Plc., Oceanic bank limited, Nitel and Vodafone due to poor corporate Governance.

A good corporate governance culture is critical for any corporation of a developing economy like Nigeria. However, in virtually all the reported cases of corporate governance failures in Nigeria, poor CG largely is facilitated by corruption. This is because the managers of rule breaking firms are often politically-connected to top government officials or may bribe their institutional regulator to evade sanctions. Other problems relating to poor corporate governance in Nigeria include abuse of shareholders’ rights, lack of commitment on the part of the Board of directors, lack of adherence to the regulatory framework, weak monitoring systems, lack of transparency and lack of disclosure. Corruption hampers sustainable development, which makes it one of the principal challenges for companies and governments. Also, enforcement of the code by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) appears to be weak or non-existent in Nigeria.

To promote corporate governance in the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), there must be a fair and accountable public governance by the Board of Directors and shareholders, effective implementation of the principles code, NNPC Ltd should be allowed to function better as an independent entity, devoid of government interference and control.

As much as the commercialisation of NNPCL and other significant changes in the PIA is a step towards economic growth and development, NNPCL can only achieve its goals and missions of making profits as well as economic growth by complying with the standards of corporate governance. Good governance culture and the principles of CG will indeed help strengthen the NNPCL and increase the confidence of the investors or shareholders in the Energy Sector in Nigeria. 

Written by: Temitope Olowolafe, a Law Graduate from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria.

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How Darlyn Okojie Solved Cross-Border Transactions With An Expanding Business

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Darlyn Okojie, Founder at Rugs and Floors (Image: Supplied)

Darlyn Okojie has never been a big dreamer, however, she is a strong believer in the power of hard work and sheer grit. “If I could think it then I could do it’’. Her personality has also made her realise that she loved being around smart people, especially those that inspire me to do more,.

Daryln has a friend who is a co-founder of an organization with operations in four African countries. In December 2020, he visited her and she was so excited about her growth and all she had accomplished with Rugs and Floors (at this time it was just Rugs and Floors Lagos). Darlyn showed him her books, but his reply was shocking. He asked her a barrage of questions e,g Can you produce your own rugs now? What would it take for you to supply outside Nigeria? Can you brand and customise rugs now? What makes you different from everyone else? How do you plan to expand? What’s your target for next year?

His question made her realize that although she had achieved a lot, there were still a myriad of opportunities to explore. She then listed all the questions he had asked, and it gave her a clear version of what she could accomplish. So she started doing her market research, studying different markets and ways to expand my business. A few months after the fateful conversation, Darlyn travelled to Kenya and then Turkey and started exploring the international market and her supply chain. As she started expanding her base, new challenges started arising. By the time she had expanded to a new market, she met her biggest challenge yet: cross-country payments. 

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Darlyn started off by dealing with the local money changers in these countries, which meant she had to go through the strenuous process of changing Naira to Dollars and Dollars to the local currency. Then, November 2021, she heard about Wise from a friend for the first time and decided to try them out. However, due to restrictions on forex made by the Central Bank of Nigeria, she couldn’t even open the account until she was out of the country. But as soon as she was out of the country, she opened a Wise account and it was life-changing for her as well as Rugs and Floors Africa and Memo Africa.

Wise allowed her to open 10 local accounts in different countries and she could perform transactions in various currencies including, British pounds, Euro, US dollar, Australian dollar and Turkish lira. Any business owner knows that handling finance is quite tasking, and conducting transactions across borders is hell. You can never predict the conversion rate.

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