Leader Spotlight: Kemi DaSilva-Ibru of Women At Risk International Foundation: WARIF

Q: Where do you live?

A. Nigeria

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Q: Tell us about your organization.

A. WARIF is one of the foremost anti sexual and gender based violence organisations in Nigeria and Africa. The organisation addresses the issues of rape , sexual violence and trafficking of young girls and women across communities in Nigeria. The statistics in Nigeria today confirm that 1 in 4 girls before the age of 18 will have suffered at least one violent sexual encounter. In a Country with over 180 million people in population, with 50% being women, this has quickly become an epidermic. WARIF tackles its overarching mission through 3 pillars - treatment and intervention: with the provision of free medical care and forensic medical examinations, psychosocial counseling and social welfare services such as shelters and legal aid at the WARIF Rape Crisis Centre.

The Educational Pillar: provides implemented initiatives with measured impact, to adolescent school girls, empowering and educating them through specifically designed curriculum on the identification and prevention of gender based violence.

Community Service : initiatives in rural areas provide training to traditional birth attendants on being first responders to cases of sexual violence in their communities; whilst initiatives implemented in the more urban cities focus on raising awareness and strong advocacy campaigns against sexual violence and rape in these communities.

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Q: What is the one piece of advice you would like to share with other women looking to start an organization?

A. First you must heed a call from within. To start a non-governmental organisation, especially in the developing part of the world, often times facing many challenges from financial constraints to political, social and in some cases cultural barriers, there must be a deeply instilled passion and perseverance. There must be clarity in the identification of the specific problem or need you would like to address through a quantifiable process. You must then provide impactful solutions that can be scaled up to expand and touch a greater number of your target audience.

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Q: How can WorldWideWomen readers get involved in what you are doing?

A. The WARIF organisation is a non-profit organisation that provides assistance and addresses the issue of rape and sexual violence in Nigeria and Africa; however, this is a global issue. By highlighting the work we do and the services we provide, this would assist us is making the much-needed connections, collaborating and forming partnerships with other similar organisations globally, and thereby, positively impacting the problem on a global platform. It also places and keeps a spotlight on a problem that has been ignored for far too long and needs to be recognised for the personal and social menace that it is with longterm intergenerational consequences.

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Q: Who is the greatest female influence in your life?

A. My mother - Alice Lucy DaSilva. I was brought up to believe I could be anything I wanted to be and do anything I chose to do regardless of my gender. She reminded me that all spheres of my life were equally important and to embrace them all. So I became an Obstetrician & Gyneclogist - a male dominated medical speciality and still run my private practice today whilst being a wife, mother and a social activist!

Q: Please share with us something that you want other women around the world to hear.

A. "I believe the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st Century" - Hilary Clinton

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Connect with Kemi DaSilva-Ibru and the Women At Risk International Foundation: WARIF
through her Facebook page!

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