Sylvia Nwoko is a communications consultant at the RSH Nigeria Hub. For over 20 years, she has worked in various private sector organisations in training, administrative, business development, and project management roles. Sylvia discovered a passion for communications in the humanitarian and development sectors thanks to RSH.
I facilitated a training for BBC Media Action (BBCMA) partners on safeguarding as part of a cooperation between RSH and BBCMA. The training for different partners in Abuja and Calabar brought me up close with media practitioners and the gap in knowledge on safeguarding matters.
Safeguarding has been more widely promoted in the development and humanitarian space and not so much in the private sector. The training allowed for some discussions and questioning by the participants on what is acceptable and what isn’t.
“Nasty and foul language is widely tolerated in the media, so how can we avoid being labelled as boring at work if we stop using it?,” asked a participant. “How can you tell the difference between a compliment and a kind of sexual harassment at work?,” inquired another participant.
Participating journalists also discussed the question of abiding by the customs of a specific location where they go and cover an event.
“In a community where it is customary to give to a guest a young female to have sexual relations with, and you as a journalist are in that community as a guest and are offered this golden gift, what do you do?”
These questions and reactions show a lack of understanding and poor practice of safeguarding, and prompted a call for the promotion of safeguarding. “When it comes to the civil service code of conduct, how can safeguarding be included?,” asked a participant.
Safeguarding, which is how organisations keep people safe and ensure that they Do No Harm to anyone who comes in contact with them, should not be only applicable to non-governmental organisations and the aid sector but is a human rights issue that should be promoted by all including non-profit, private sector and government alike and anything in between.
Key steps to promote safeguarding
- Development of safeguarding policy and integrating it in the code of conduct: All organisations should have a safeguarding policy and appropriate code of conduct that integrates safeguarding
- Training and awareness: All staff and representatives should be trained on safeguarding and what it means
- Governance and leadership: Leadership of all organisations should lead by example of the safeguarding policy and code of conduct
- Safeguarding mechanisms should be established: These mechanisms, including safe and accessible reporting channels, safe space for engaging of all with supportive, transparent and non-discriminative where there is inclusion of all gender, age, disability and other diversity or minority, should be promoted.