By Abayomi Elias

At an advocacy exhibition event tagged ‘What if It Were You’, Vision Spring Initiatives (VSI) merge advocacy with visual art to charge participants to promote women and girls human rights.

Newsconnect reports that Vision Spring Initiatives was able to use creative and visual art to tell stories around sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, and their choices, at an art exhibition in Lagos.

Mary Udoh, the Program Officer, Policy and Advocacy for Vision Spring Initiatives said one of the new ways VSI seeks to promote and create awareness around the human rights for women and girls other than training is through creative and visual art. She said her organisation wants them to demand for their rights and for the things that they deserve.

In her own words, she said;

“We need to create awareness around the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in Lagos, Nigeria. Women have the right to their bodies, they have right to choice. They can choose to do what they want with their body, and determine who has access to their body. They also have right to choice in respect to contraception, and child birth.

Also, in its effort to reduce maternal mortality as a result of high rate of unsafe abortion among adolescent girls and women, Vision Spring Initiatives (VSI) is appealling to Lagos State Government to reinstate the guideline on safe termination of pregnancy.

“How can we create opportunities to protect and save the lives of women and girls who are survivors of rape and abuse. We are pleading to Lagos State Government to open conversations around policies that protect the reproductive rights of women and girls in Lagos. One of these is the guideline on safe termination of pregnancy, let’s open this conversation so we can see how we can save the lives of women and girls, those who are survivors of rape, incest and abuse.

“Two years ago Lagos State Government developed a guideline on safe termination of pregnancy so women and girls are able to have access to Safe Termination of Pregnancy services, two weeks after it was suspended as a result of public outrage, Lagos State Government suspended it to have a better conversation.

“So it’s been two years, we are saying Lagos State Government should reopen the conversation.

“We are advocating for the sexual and reproductive rights of women, we’re advocating for bodily autonomy, and choice.

A digital Artist George Adjete, also known as Abaniwonda created an experience for the participants with his art pieces.

In an interview with Newsconnect correspondence, he said;

“I tried to start a conversation around access. Women and girls should have access to more choices especially with their reproductive rights.

“One of my art piece talks about “her body, her choice”. Is it really her body her choice when she doesn’t have enough options to choose from ? When the society is stifling the development of more young girls in their own moral code.

“I feel there is a lot of ‘nonsense’ that stands in the way of a girl child from accessing services that will help her grow and protect her. Rather than looking at the side of protecting her and to let her grow, the society is looking at its own personal moral code, which are unfounded.

“The second art piece is that I tried to create a eutopia, an alternate work where the community is more accepting and more empathetic towards the plight of adolescent girls. It talks about how a girl who was raped, got pregnant and the community was empathetic towards her and exposing the culprit.

“The community didn’t chastise her, they didn’t castigate her, she was able to voice out who did it and the person was arrested. Because she was able to do that, she was able to get the help she needed which included comprehensive healthcare services”.

Abaniwonda said another challenge is when people hear safe abortion services, they think it is straight abortion. A lot of processes come into play.

He said;

“There is a session where a girl is given about three options to choose from, that is the exact conversation I am using this art piece to start.

“To see how Nigerians would start thinking outside themselves, and be more empathetic towards the plight of African Child. Arts help people to start conversation. It is a conversation starter, 100 people can look at an artistic piece and give it different interpretation, the crux of the message will still be there.

“Art exhibition like this should be encouraged in the widest spectrum, the more young people are encouraged to start this conversation, the more they are getting opportunities to engage with each other.

“They can start conversation about other innovation different from what we are saying when they engage with each other.

Other artists analysed the concept of their artistic piece which were all tailored to the struggle women and girl face in the society. Also a clarion call for CSOs and stakehokders to tackle issues head-on.

By News Connect Online

News Connect Online is a grassroot advocacy news platform established to promote development and peace through efficient and effective reportage across all beats. Beat: Education, Entertainment Environment Energy Business Health, Sport, Foreign News, Advocacy, Tourism, Transportation

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