Maimuna Maibe: On Global Activism
Words By – Yemisi Suleiman
Maimuna Maibe is the Country Director, Global Citizen Nigeria, one of the world’s largest movement of action takers and impact makers, dedicated to ending extreme poverty now.
She leads and manages the policy objectives, advocacy and campaigns within the Nigerian market, at Global Citizen, with equity, women and girls issues at the forefront of its policy campaigns. A competent and driven professional, Maimuna has robust knowledge and experience in community relations, social policy, global sustainability strategy and operations, partnership management and resource recovery.
She holds a BSc in Public Health from Coventry University, UK, MSc in Corporate Environmental Management from the University of Surrey, UK and a Diploma in Waste to Energy Technologies from Queensland University of Technology, Australia.
As the world joins the United Nations in celebrating the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, Maimuna speaks on her organisation’s efforts in raising awareness on gender-based violence.
It’s another anniversary of 16 Days of Activism on Gender based Violence. How is your organisation walking the talk?
We have intentionally observed the UN 16 Days of Activism not just as spectators, or as part of a civil society group, we have been actively taking time out to engage stakeholders and policy makers, to advocate especially for the domestication of the Violence Against Person Prohibition, VAPP, Act, which is really where our campaign stems from. We really wanted to see the activities around sexual and gender based violence be grounded in policy. So, when we started our campaign two years ago, we thought what are the best ways that Global Citizen would be the most productive? So, we thought at that time, the VAPP Act has only been domesticated in 18 states, and we decided to come up with a campaign called, “Roadmap to 36” which is essentially looking to advocate that the remaining states in Nigeria domesticate the Act. That campaign started during 16 Days of Activism in 2020. But, in the past year, our campaigning has taken a completely different turn, focusing on also having conversations with a variety of Civil Society Organizations, to see how we can come together to mobilise towards that aim. This year, we decided to take a grassroots approach; getting people to be aware of, and understand, the importance of protecting women and girls in the communities, and also making sure that people understand the reporting structures available, and how to seek help around sexual violence conversations.
Every year activities are built around these events. How do you measure the impact of these programmes on the targeted audience?
We understand that various stakeholders are always doing events and activities during the year. But one thing that Global Citizen really stands for is measuring and reporting on our impact. If you go to our website, you can see that. There’s a map that provides impact reports that we do based on commitments that are made on our stage and off-stage as well. This is no different from a Nigerian perspective. What we’ve done this year, is curate that impact based on what we’ve done in the past two years, especially the traction that we’ve gained from engaging policy makers and other civil society organisations, the campaigning that we’ve done towards the domestication of the VAPP Act across states and also, most importantly, the 12 minute documentary-style video we created with the support of the Ford Foundation. In this video, we went across different states in Nigeria, talking to activists, policy makers, survivors and leaders of faith and culture. There are traditional heads speaking on the importance of domesticating the VAPP Act and the role of the community in supporting that. We had also released a petition two years ago for Global citizens and Nigerians on our platform to call out on their leaders and their policymakers to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, which had over 23,000 global citizens, putting their signature on that petition. We successfully handed over that petition to the Ministry of Women Affairs during 16 days of activism in 2021. Throughout the year, we make sure we follow through with the stakeholders that have either made commitments, or that we are actively engaging to put data and numbers to the work we are doing. That is how we measure the impact of the work we are doing.
The Roadmap to 36 Campaign is focused on addressing gender-based violence in the Nigerian community and through this campaign Global Citizen has mobilised resources and support to this fight over the years. Please tell us what inspired this campaign and how it all began?
As an organisation, equity on women and girls issues have always been top of mind for us. Societal problems like gender-based violence and other issues limiting women and girls from having equal opportunities, have been proven to be directly linked to extreme poverty. Without filling the equity gap that currently exists, we cannot fulfil our ultimate mission as an organisation which is to end extreme poverty.
In 2020, we were approached by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, asking us to participate in their 16 Days of Activism campaign. This was based on the other activations and advocacy events that they’ve seen us put together before. The idea was for us to curate stories of young girls and young women that were living in the internally displaced camps in Borno State. So, we commissioned a photographer to go to those camps and visually capture those girls’ stories, but also to speak to them about their experiences which UNFPA curated. So on each and every day of the 16 Days of Activism, a girl was featured. We amplified that campaign on our platforms and also went ahead to launch the petition that I mentioned. That petition was housed on that website and on our website as well, allowing global citizens and the UNFPA community to take action and call on their leaders to protect the vulnerable girls in the IDP camp and other girls in Nigeria as well. We were so inspired by this that we thought we needed something more, a campaign that is grounded in legislation like the VAPP Act to support that. That’s why we launched the Roadmap to 36 Campaign and that’s what we continued campaigning for.
What has Global Citizen achieved so far in ensuring the domestication and implementation of the VAPP Act on this campaign?
So far, we have been able to close out the petition for the domestication of the VAPP Act with more than 23,000 signatures from global citizens handed to the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development; garnered high-level stakeholder and grassroot support in the fight against gender-based violence and the domestication of the VAPP Act from stakeholders such as UN Women, WRAPA, Office of President on the SDGs and The Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development at a roundtable in Abuja last year and more.
What is Global Citizen’s commitment to carrying this conversation forward beyond today’s town hall?
In carrying this forward actively into the community, we were really excited to partner with the Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA and the launching of a special toll-free hotline for the women in their community, acting in their role as first responders. We would like for this conversation to be carried forward to other local governments nationwide. The Chairman was actually contacted by some of his colleagues that they would like to have such events or host such events in their local government as well. So it would be our responsibility as Global Citizen to support them with resources that they need, to help them curate the right panelists that can speak to their audience and help them create relationships with the amazing grassroots organisations that do the intervention, create their own helplines and support the response of their security agencies. So we’re there to facilitate these conversations.
The COVID-19 Pandemic came with a rise in domestic violence. What are the stats now post-covid?
UN Women describes gender-based violence as a shadow pandemic and reports that 243 million women and girls aged 15 – 49 experienced sexual violence by an intimate partner before the pandemic and these numbers have worsened since the pandemic. This is why, Global Citizen is really passionate about protecting women and girls and having these smaller community level conversations are important.
You’re the country Director for Global Citizen, how did you first get involved in working against gender-based violence and violence against women?
I have always been passionate about women and girls issues whether it is investing in their health care or investing in female education. When I started working for Global Citizen, we were thinking around strategies for our markets and strategies for the continent in general with our global policy team, and one of the most important things that they wanted to see, was what global citizens and Nigerians care about in terms of campaigning and advocacy. There was a survey that Global Citizen conducted in 2019, asking global citizens in our database what kind of issues they would like to see Global Citizen campaign on in Nigeria, and women and girls issues came up top three. This is the reason why as an organisation, we intentionally focused on that. I was also happy to see that that clearly aligned with my passion; to see women play a very important role in our society, get the recognition that they deserve and to continuously campaign for equity for women in the workplace, thinking around gender-responsive policies, or making sure that there’s equal pay and financial inclusion for women. I’ve always been passionate about that and I’m just lucky to work for an organisation that is equally passionate about uplifting women and girls issues as well.
You must have faced some challenges over the years in being active around this issue. What are some of the challenges and how did you handle them?
Personally, working in a male-dominated field always has it’s challenges. I think it’s always challenging to be able to navigate those waters as a woman, making sure that you’re respected for your intellect, and seen as an equal instead of somebody that’s less than. So, those are some of the challenges that I’m sure every woman faces working in corporate Nigeria. But, I can also proudly say that, I’ve had male support throughout my career; male figures that were able to show me the way, and uplift me in those spaces that I occupied.
So, men can also help women navigate the career ladder. I’m a true example of that.
What would you say is the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work I think, is just seeing our advocacy and our campaigning efforts come to life. There’s nothing like seeing the lives that you’ve impacted directly and seeing those impact numbers.
Tell us a bit about your growing up and how your growing influences decisions you take in life?
I had the best time growing up. My parents were very supportive of my decisions and they always wanted me to be the best version of myself. I was also raised to be selfless and show genuine care for others. Another huge influence on my life were the schools I was privileged to attend both locally and internationally which helped me think very consciously about the world and how it works. It helped me understand that I had a place in the world and purpose to fulfill it. I am grateful for my family’s support throughout my career. Without them, I would not be the woman I am today.