The relevance of the UN call to 'Leave No One Behind' has never been more apt than it is in present day Nigeria as many citizens increasingly feel that they have been left behind. Lack of inclusion cuts across the entire region and affects particularly women, children, the elderly, and the youth.
Civil unrest and community clashes have increased the rate of gender-based violence (particularly sexual violence) against women and children (the girl child and boys), and also coerced the male child into war. The elderly also bear part of the brunt. Certain harmful traditional practices still strife in Nigeria. The current economic hardship and the resultant inflation have brought untold hardship to many citizens, and the youths are stripped of vision and zeal due to the increasing unemployment. Discriminatory tax policies continually extort the majority poor while enriching the few at the top.
These circumstances have deepened inequality, discrimination, marginalisation and consequently poverty in Nigeria; contradicting the express provisions in the 1999 Constitution regarding equality and non-discrimination. Nigeria is signatory to and/has acceded to many international human rights instruments; however, domestication of these instruments has remained a huge challenge. Bills like Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill; Discrimination against Persons with Disability bill etc are still struggling in the 8th legislative Assembly. On the other hand, laws that have clear discriminatory provisions like the Anti-Gay Law excelled in 2015.
Reaching marginalised groups and getting them to voice out their feelings and believes have not been easy tasks, due to stigmatisation and the culture of silence. Voice in Nigeria is therefore looking for innovative ways to break this culture of silence, encourage the target groups to speak out and force relevant authorities to listen. Voice believes that through the act of speaking out and listening, barriers of silence and stigmatisation can be broken.