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Philip Oxhorn, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Philip Oxhorn is a Professor of Political Science at McGill University and the Founding Director of McGill’s Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID). His research focuses on the comparative study of civil society and its role in supporting democratic regimes, particularly in Latin America. Professor Oxhorn’s publications include Sustaining Civil Society: Economic Change, Democracy and the Social Construction of Citizenship in Latin America (Penn State University Press, 2011) and Organizing Civil Society: The Popular Sectors and the Struggle for Democracy in Chile (Penn State University Press, 1995), as well as numerous articles and four co-edited volumes. He has lectured in North and South America, Western Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. He has a PhD in Political Science from Harvard University.

PAPER TITLE: Reducing Violence against Women and Children through Civil Society: Applying a Citizenship Perspective.


Violence against women and children is a global problem that requires local solutions by actively engaging with civil society. This is because of the central role civil society plays in the social construction of citizenship. Through the social construction of citizenship, civil society organizations collectively mobilize to define the rights of citizenship and ensure that they are enforced by the state. More specifically, civil society has three complementary roles to play. First, it is essential that civil society organizations provide support for the victims of violence. This includes assistance in escaping violent situations. Second, civil society organizations need to play a central role in promoting gender equality and women’s political participation in order to create a cultural climate that does not tolerate violence against women or children. Third, civil society must actively engage with the state to achieve state-society synergy. This is achieved when states work with their civil societies to define and pursue public goods. As such, both states and civil societies are made stronger as they work together to control violence and improve the quality of education. The end result is more democratic governance through the creation of responsive, accountable governments based on active citizen participation.

Dr. Onyeka Iwuchukwu, National Open University of Nigeria, Victoria Island, Lagos

Dr. Onyeka Iwuchukwu, who also wrote plays as Onyeka Onyekuba is an Associate Professor at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). Her research interests include; English/African literature, drama, gender, open and distance learning, youth development and human rights. Based on her research interests, she has delivered academic papers in many States in America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Dr. Iwuchukwu is a graduate of English from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with a PhD in English (Literature) from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She has published eight plays, five books as instructional materials in open distance learning (ODL) and her articles have appeared in several learned journals. She is the Founder of NOUN Theatre and has written and directed several yet to be published plays.

PAPER TITLE: Focus Feminism: A Strategy for Eliminating Domestic Violence


Focus feminism, a new brand of feminism that proposes the need for women to focus on themselves and seek to impact positively on everyone in their society. It argues that the idea of blaming men or patriarchy for the perceived woes of women is no longer relevant in the contemporary society. It interrogates the feminists’ “war” against men arguing that the real enemy is the woman herself as sometimes she constitutes the trigger. Focus Feminism is not combative but seeks to empower the woman to redefine herself and not hide behind the mask of culture or convention to justify her actions. The woman is enjoined to “…journey into the self, see what fruit it bears” to really know who she is as that knowledge will provide true liberation. Focus feminism is expected to aid the woman’s understanding of herself, how to uplift her life and the lives of others, especially women, around her. The paper will highlight how each woman in selected plays deals with domestic violence or oppression. The paper is not a literary analysis of selected plays but an elucidation of my response to Prof. Hagher’s call for playwrights to “…use [our] imagination creatively to give us newer visions to see us through these times” since drama is “an ideal medium for anchoring policy and widening perception” on issues. Clearly, policies and legislations have failed because few women in Nigeria report cases of domestic violence. It is hoped that from the inside, each woman can help to avert, reduce or eliminate domestic violence.