27 March 2024

Promoting Gender Equality in Education, and Tackling Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria

The CSC is thrilled to be publishing the 23rd case study in our on-going series demonstrating the impact of Commonwealth Scholarships.

Taibat’s graduation ceremony from SOAS University of London.

Featured in this case study is Taibat Hussain who completed a Master’s degree in Development Economics at SOAS University of London in 2020 through a Commonwealth Scholarship, an achievement she repeated in 2022 when she was awarded yet another Scholarship to study for a PhD in Global Development at the University of East Anglia. Taibat is the Founder and Director of the Rising Child Foundation which has transformed and empowered the lives of the most vulnerable children, especially girls and young women, by creating access to education, promoting gender equality, and addressing gender-based violence. Through its advocacy work, Rising Child foundation influenced the passing of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act into law and its implementation in Kwara State of Nigeria in 2020. As the Senior Technical Advisor for the development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC) Taibat was instrumental in the implementation of the Partnership for Advancing Women in Economic Development (PAWED) project which created access for women to influence Nigerian policies on gender and women’s economic empowerment, and the Safe Schools project which created safe and conducive learning environments, particularly for girls and vulnerable students. 

Currently, Taibat is pursuing her PhD studies investigating the experiences and institutional responses to school related gender-based violence. The findings from her PhD research will inform and improve the focus of her advocacy work with her start-up, Rising Child Foundation. 

Taibat’s development work supports two of the CSC Development Themes: Access, inclusion and opportunity; and Strengthening global peace, security and governance. Moreover, her work contributes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly: SDG 1 — No Poverty; SDG4 — Quality Education; SGD 5 —Reduced Inequalities; and SDG16 — Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. 

‘I wouldn’t compare my writing skills before the Master’s to after the Master’s studies. The difference is clear. I had to relearn how I write, or how I criticise research and my critical analysis skills improved. The knowledge and connections I gained during my time at SOAS have been instrumental in my non-profit endeavours. I have successfully secured grants totalling more than USD25,000 for my organisation. These financial resources have enabled us to expand our programs and reach a broader audience, making a more substantial impact in our mission to promote education and address gender-based violence.’ 

‘Beyond the academic and financial gains, my Scholarship experience has enriched my personal life. I have forged lasting friendships with fellow scholars through the CSC scholar WhatsApp platform. These friendships have not only provided a strong support network but also fostered a sense of shared purpose.’ 

Taibat with her Team during a GBV outreach.

Reflecting on the impact of the Commonwealth Scholarship, Taibat highlighted how her knowledge and skills honed while on Scholarship have changed her understanding and approach on tackling societal problems related to access to education and development. She identified the most significant change to herself as a result of the Commonwealth Scholarship.

‘The most significant change resulting from my Scholarship experience has been a profound shift in my perspective on education advocacy. Before this transformative journey, I primarily focused on advocating for increased access to education. However, through the scholarship, I came to realise that mere access is insufficient. What truly matters is safe, inclusive, and transformative education. Previously, I emphasised the importance of getting children, especially girls, into classrooms. While this was undoubtedly crucial, it didn’t fully address the deeper issues. After this realisation, I became a passionate advocate for the need to prioritise safe and inclusive education environments that are free from gender-based violence (GBV). I began writing extensively on this topic, speaking at both national and international conferences to highlight the urgency of addressing GBV in schools and allocating sufficient financial resources to ensure its eradication.’ 

Taibat identified the implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act as the most significant change that she brought to her local community as a result of the Commonwealth Scholarship.

‘The most significant change in my community and beyond resulting from my scholarship has been the successful domestication of the VAPP (Violence Against Persons Prohibition) Act in my state. Before this change, my state had not implemented the VAPP Act despite its passage in 2015 at the national level. This gap in legislation left victims of gender-based violence (GBV) without adequate legal protection and support. Through intense advocacy efforts, including my active involvement as an activist, NGOs, and fellow advocates, we pressured the state government to pass the VAPP Act into law in 2020. This legislative change has been transformative, as it provides a legal framework to address and prevent GBV, ensuring that survivors have the legal recourse they need. Additionally, my work in mobilizing and empowering young people to champion the eradication of GBV has had a ripple effect. Many of these young advocates have carried out community outreach programs, providing education on GBV prevention and reporting. They have also served as mentors to school children, imparting knowledge about GBV prevention. The beneficiaries of these efforts include survivors of GBV who now have legal protections and access to support services, as well as young advocates who have become change-makers in their communities.’ 

Read Taibat Hussain’s Case Study here.