Former chauvinist to take gender equality into real life politics
Twenty-three year old Ikenna Nwafor, is a Mass Communications student of the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, and fifth of six children in a Christian family where one child is female and love flows from equality. However, as a senator in the school parliament, he was one of those who discouraged female participation in decision making for plain chauvinism. That was until he encountered Safe Spaces in August 2014.
“It is intriguing how I got into Safe Spaces. A friend who is a safe spaces ambassador invited me to a programme which, when I got there, was obviously not for my calibre. The auditorium was filled with academic staff and top people in the institution. However, one of the facilitators asked me to stay anyway since I was already there.
“The vision and motive of the organisers—gender equality and women empowerment—fascinated me. And when it was time to enrol, I was motivated to do so.
“The Safe Spaces experience has changed me; the programme refined the crude in me and turned me into a new person. I am a Senator, and I was one of those who would not allow women to speak in the House. We said they were inferior, the weaker vessel who didn’t have anything to contribute. But the Safe Spaces session convinced me that women are the agents of change, and that they can transform the nation if given the opportunity.
“Later, when the elections of Association of Mass Communications Students came up, most of the females refused to seek office, so I called them and enlightened them on why they should vie for leadership positions—that the qualities were in them; that it was their right etc. After the meeting, four of the 23 females in the department decided to contest. Safe Spaces was the reason I was able to talk to them.
“I have learnt a lot from Safe Spaces presentations like Johari Window, Trust Walk, and Communication. I have come to understand some things I never knew about myself. I now know I used to put females down, but now I find communication with them easy.
“I am now for women participating in politics and decision making. Upcoming is the election of the Governor in my hostel, and I’m rooting for a female to get it for the first time. But for Safe Spaces, I couldn’t have even considered the thought.
“As a beneficiary, I shall never look back. I will forever stand firm for the women so that they can participate in decision making. I urge the women to come out en masses; they usually don’t come out enough; they believe they are the weaker s.
“After graduation, I shall take Safe Spaces into real life politics; I am highly interested in politics.”