By Ignatius Ushie
Forum for Women in Film and Television International, otherwise called Women in Film and Television International (WIFTI), Nigeria Chapter, was recently launched officially in Abuja, in commemoration of this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, from 25 November to 10 December, themed, “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!”
The launch of Nigeria chapter of WIFTI was in collaboration with UN Women and Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year partnership between European Union and United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030.
The group called for speedy passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEO) Bill, adding that when enacted, the bill would provide for the prohibition of non-discrimination against women, ensuring equal opportunities for all.
Speaking at the workshop, UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Comfort Lamptey said they are happy about the opportunity to collaborate with the Nigerian Film Industry through WIFTI and will be collaborating with senior leaders of WIFTI to leverage on momentum towards the second reading of the GEO Bill.
According to Lamptey, the collaboration would position the network to advocate for an increase women’s political representation and address violence against women and girls as women in film and television and wider society.
“The collaboration will also leverage on WIFTI’s convening power to support the film and TV industry to structure products that will champion gender equality in Nigeria and increase awareness of the Bill while garnering support toward its successful passage.” she said.
Ajoke Silva, Convener of WIFTI Nigeria, said the partnership was necessary to help people within the entertainment industry understand gender issues as well as the GEO bill. “Most of these people are writers, directors and producers, who work behind the scenes but they are the people who put together the project, the performance they present to the public. So the strategy is to let the people who actually craft the messaging understand the issues behind the message.”
While human rights lawyer and founding Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said the workshop is part of awareness, as few people know about the Bill. “The level of awareness might also be one of the reasons the passage has been so difficult because we didn’t get the kind of support we needed from Nigerians generally. So this is a strategy to ensure that the bill gets passed because it is very important for everyone.
Bill sponsor, Senator Biodun Olujimi said Nigeria has a thriving film industry, which for the last two and a half decades, has transformed into a global phenomenon and seen artistes’ creativity explode on the cinema and on-line platforms.