"towards an empowered womanhood"

Headquarters National: 44 Ekpo Abasi Street Calabar Nigeria
Tel: (234) 87- 230929 Fax: (234) 87- 236298 e-mail:


April 2000

Dear Senator,

I am concerned to hear from colleagues in the United States about the resolution against The "See Change" Campaign which seeks to review the status of the Holy See at the United Nations.

At Girls' Power Initiative (GPI), we work towards the political and social empowerment of Nigerian women. We use a unique holistic approach to educating adolescent girls in central and eastern Nigeria about sexuality, gender roles, community action and women's rights, while developing the girls' leadership and self reliance skills.

Traditionally, it is a taboo in Nigeria, as in many parts of the world, to discuss matters of sexuality with young people in the erroneous belief that ignorance encourages purity, virginity and chastity especially for the girl child. Yet, there are risky and very devastating results of this denial for young people as can be seen in a high rate of unintended teenage pregnancy and unsafe abortion. Available data show that 2 out of every 5 secondary school girls have had at least one previous pregnancy; over 60% of patients in Nigerian hospitals with abortion complications are adolescent girls under the age of 19 years and 50% of the deaths in Nigeria's high maternal mortality rate are adolescent girls. Indeed, Nigeria is rated as having one of the highest mortality rates in the world. We are aware that these problems exist in all societies except that the levels of occurrence differ from place to place.

The Catholic church, through the activities of its bishops here in Nigeria, and its position at the United Nations, works hard to keep the status quo, where talk about sex is taboo, and talk about preventing unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases is forbidden. This must change if we are to protect the health and lives of women in Nigeria and other countries where the church is powerful.

Please do not support the resolution against The "See Change" Campaign. It is an important initiative that may well enhance the lives of women in Nigeria and elsewhere.


Bene E. Madunagu