Meet the feminist change-makers stopping gender-based violence in Nigeria 

In the heart of Dangoma, a community in Kaduna state, Nigeria, two women, Hauwa and Hadiza, are not only women leaders; they are pillars of strength and beacons of hope. Their unwavering determination to combat sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and promote peaceful and safe homes is lifechanging, weaving a tapestry of safety and support where fear and division once reigned.

Hadiza and Hauwa stand together in Dangoma, Kaduna state, Nigeria
Hadiza and Hauwa, two women standing together with one vision to ends violence against women and girls in Dangoma, Kaduna state, Nigeria. International Alert/Imaobong Edukere

Hadiza, a school teacher with a compassionate understanding of SGBV has witnessed its devasting impact firsthand. She volunteers her unwavering voice as a powerful advocate, amplifying the voices of the voiceless. Through her leadership in various women’s associations, community forums and workshops in Dangoma and the neighbouring community, Goska, she raises awareness of SGBV. She encourages women to speak out against violence, shattering the silence that perpetuates the cycle of violence.

Hauwa, a woman of quiet strength, possesses an unwavering resolve. She educates young people on the need to live together peacefully and has turned her home into a safe haven, offering solace and her shoulder as a pillar of support to survivors. Her humour and acts of kindness, like a warm embrace, provide comfort when people need it most.

Brought together through a series of trainings on psychological first aid (supporting women and girls in the aftermath of abuse) and conflict, gender sensitivity and advocacy by International Alert Nigeria with support from the UK Conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), Hadiza and Hauwa have emerged as an unstoppable force championing the cause of peace and justice and rallying the community to support a vision of a peaceful society. To further create awareness, they designed and created matching hijabs with the inscriptions to ‘Stop/End violence against women and girls” and this serves as a uniform anytime they meet at gatherings.

Hadiza and Hauwa's matching hijabs which say 'Stop violence against women and girls'
Hadiza and Hauwa wear their matching hijabs with a message to end violence against women and girls in Dangoma, Kaduna state, Nigeria. International Alert/Imaobong Edukere

Their relentless efforts are bearing fruits. Men who were once bystanders are now allies, joining hands to challenge harmful norms and promote gender equality. Women and girls are respected, emboldened, and are speaking up. Dangoma and Goska, communities once fractured by fear, are now respecting women and their place in society.

Hadiza and Hauwa with youth from Goska, Dangoma and the Community Leader of Dangoma during a photo story documentation in Dangoma, Kaduna state. International Alert/Imaobong Edukere

Hadiza and Hauwa’s courage and selflessness shows the extraordinary power of ordinary women. Their courage, compassion, and unwavering belief that even the smallest acts of kindness speak volumes are leaving an indelible mark in Dangoma and Goska, and inspiring others to become agents of change.

This International Women’s Day 2024, International Alert Nigeria raises our voice with other feminist organisations leading efforts to tackle gender inequality and push forward women’s empowerment. With a meagre 0.13 per cent of the total development aid worldwide focussed on feminist organisations, more can be done for women.

Invest in women: Accelerate progress!


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