HURRAY! S4C IS 12! 3

What began as a Facebook discussion group twelve years ago has metamorphosed into an international organization with branches and country offices in Nigeria and West Africa. Special thanks go to the board of trustees, staff, volunteers, funding and technical partners of Spaces for Change|S4C whose generous contributions and unalloyed commitment to the organization over the past 12 years have culminated in remarkable progress across its four thematic areas – extractive justice, civic space, gender inclusion and housing rights.

The number—twelve—has significant meaning across cultures, religions, and ancient traditions. Likewise, reaching the 12th year of operations is stacked with deep symbolism and significance for the organization. Attaining the 12th year of organizational life means reinvention, consolidation, and evolution. Reinvention means looking back on the different cycles of organizational development and re-examining how the organization has responded to the external environment from inception. Consolidation means evaluating the strategies, wins, failings, alliances, and interventions of the past years while drawing important lessons regarding what has worked and what hasn’t worked. Evolution means recognizing that certain changes come with age and maturation. Therefore the organization must inevitably transform itself in order to thrive and attain higher levels of stability.

Along this three-pronged symbolism, the organization’s management embarked on an organization-wide introspection, marshaling new plans for reinvention, consolidation, and evolution toward building a more resilient organization. So, what happened in the last 12 years necessitating this introspection and the accompanying shifts in the modus operandi?  Spaces for Change has documented, reported and taken action to improve the plight of marginalized urban and rural communities displaced by either urban renewal or major economic development projects. The organization’s media campaign popularised the then Petroleum Industry Bill (now Petroleum Industry Act, 2021), ensuring that Nigerians had adequate information about the bill while creating spaces for oil-producing communities to take part in the legislative processes toward the passage of the bill into law. The organization’s Ifesowapo Youth Initiative empowered disadvantaged youths in urban slums in Lagos State to take collective action against street gangsterism, cultism and violent crimes. S4C’s research report, Family Law Reform to Challenge Gender-Based Violence, published by Routledge, continues to inform policy reform on issues of violence against women.

In 2020, Spaces for Change | S4C became the recipient of the Ford Foundation’s Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD) grant to support its institutional strengthening and expansion programs. Since then, S4C has recorded progress across its four thematic focal areas, working with a wide range of technical and funding partners to deliver key strategic interventions aimed at steering social change and rights-based policy reforms in key sectors.  This progress is evident in the organizations’ convening power and the array of knowledge-building and accountability initiatives that shape and inform policies and programs of government departments, intergovernmental bodies, regulatory agencies, international development organizations, civil society and other stakeholders. S4C’s research studies—such as Unpacking the Official Construction of Risks and Vulnerabilities for the Third Sector in Nigeria and Harms from Abroad:  Impact of Global Security Measures on Civic Space in Nigeria—provide evidence for assessing the country’s compliance with global anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing regimes, and establish how well-intentioned international norms and laws built on the rhetoric of countering terrorism and defending national security generate (un)intended consequences in national contexts.

While these reflections are reminders of the need to take good work to scale, our commitment to our vision and mission has remained firm over the years.  The Board and Staff of S4C are grateful to our funding partners, implementing partners, government agencies, regulatory bodies, fellow non-governmental bodies and other stakeholders who without them, this success story would not be complete. While we remain grateful for your unwavering support all these years, we look forward to future collaborations to do much more.

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