Dorothy Aken ‘Ova is the founder of an organisaton called INCREASE. (International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights) The organisation seeks to promote sexual health in the traditional Northern Sharia state of Niger.
I believe in equal rights. I challenge the injustices, the discriminartory practices, all forms of
inequalities that exist in Nigerian society especially those that are fuelled by differences in gender and sexuality and especially sexual orientation.
In an interview on the BBC World Service Programme: IChallenge,
she discusses her organisation and we are privilleged to listen to a
disucsion amongst lesbian and gay Nigerians that she supports.
Dorothy set up an organisation for young lesbians called I Connect
which provides a supportive enviornment and network. What is disturbing is her report that there are young lesbians who as a consequence of being found out have been gang raped with the support of their families.
Ms Aken’Ova also discusses her own childhood and her desire to always challenge the status quo and make a difference. She was not interested in getting married at 18 or attending teacher training. Instead she went on to university. She choose to return to Niger State and set up her organisation there. Although in general her family support her she states that there is much about her personally and her work with which they disagree.
Her work in Niger State also counters the myth that people in the North are not willing to tolerate open discussions on sex, sexuality, infertility and so on. On the contrary communities are open to change and in fact welcome it. What they do need is a "change agent" such as Dorothy who understands the community she is working in. No doubt the fact that she herself is from Niger State goes along way to help bring about changes. Surely if this can happen in Niger State, it can happen in the rest of the country?
Another Nigerian Woman making a difference. Dorthy Aken’Ova is an inspiration to those fighting for social justice and human rights and for a progressive Nigeria.