2023 Mandela Washington Fellow Ibrahim Hassan is a dedicated and passionate human rights activist from Nigeria. His unwavering dedication to defending human rights and advocating for sexual and reproductive health rights is rooted in equity, empowerment, and community engagement.
His work focuses on changing perceptions around sexual minorities, shaping laws and policies, and creating equitable access to health services in his community. Ibrahim is the co-founder and team lead at Achievers Improved Health Initiative, a nonprofit that advocates for and assists in maintaining the health, rights, and well-being of marginalized people. Ibrahim’s work and the work of Achievers Improved Health Initiative focuses on sexual, reproductive, and mental health education, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and equal rights.
“Engaging communities and encouraging [marginalized populations] to take up space and have their voices be heard” is incredibly important, says Ibrahim. For marginalized and minority groups to feel respected and empowered, Ibrahim believes, it is essential to address root causes. “We see the need to tackle the issues of HIV from the root in our community,” says Ibrahim. He suggests that the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in his community is a result of stigmatization and criminal laws that prevent people from accessing services. Using Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as his guide, Ibrahim works to reduce discrimination against vulnerable populations and ensure the rights of all, regardless of color, sex, or other status. “We are all humans and should be treated as humans,” says Ibrahim.
To address these complex issues, Ibrahim engages in community sensitization efforts to reshape public discourse on gender and sexuality to foster a more inclusive society. He seeks to “educate health care workers to understand these communities and do their work without prejudice and bias.” His objectives are to shift perceptions and narratives about these marginalized groups, create more accessible legal systems, and empower individuals to have their voices heard.
Through conferences, storytelling, and educational initiatives Ibrahim has reached over 70,000 sexual and gender minority individuals with HIV services, enrolled over 4,000 people in treatment, and conducted an effective campaign on mental health and wellness. Ibrahim believes that protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities and educating the rest of the population are essential to creating a society in which marginalized groups are able to live free from discrimination.
Ibrahim Hassan’s story and tireless efforts showcase the transformative power of advocacy in the human rights field. His story highlights the importance of championing human rights to ensure that every individual, regardless of their background, can thrive in a world free from oppression and discrimination.
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