Chichi Aniagolu-Okoye

Ashoka Fellow

Citation

This profile was prepared when Chichi Aniagolu-Okoye was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
ChiChi is leveraging existing community structures to create a support network of Sister Guardians for victims of domestic abuse in rural Nigeria. She uses Umuada (Daughters of the Community) to embed the Sister Guardians within community life so that they can provide shelter, mediation, and support to women in need.
The women in a community choose Sister Guardians according to a specific set of criteria. The women are confident, financially stable, and are leaders in their communities. They provide support, protection, advocacy, and mediation skills to women experiencing domestic violence. They also carry out a preventive function by advocating for nonviolence in the community. Through Sister Guardians, ChiChi is challenging the self-perpetuated silence around domestic violence and is enabling women to find a collective voice to speak out against abuse.
Of course, there are situations in which mediation does not work. In these cases, the Sister Guardians go to the police and work with the victim to address the issue. ChiChi has developed relationships with local police authorities and provided training and technical support to shift their beliefs and empower them to take action. She emphasizes to the police that at the point when a Sister Guardian approaches them, all other private mediation strategies have already been deployed. ChiChi works with the police and the Sister Guardians to develop trusting relationships, so that when the need arises, the Sister Guardians can approach them without the fear of being turned away.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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