The National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), a non-governmental organisation established with the aim of addressing all forms of inequalities, abuse and discriminations against women in Nigeria, recently celebrated 60 years of existence in Nigeria. In this report, JOY YESUFU looks at the journey 60 years on…
The National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) is a Nigerian non-governmental and non-partisan women’s organisation composed of a network of independent women organisations in Nigeria binding together to use NCWS’ platform to advocate gender welfare issues to the government and society.
The goals of NCWS include among others, to improve the welfare, progress and standard of living of women in Nigeria, and to increase the role of women in affecting political life through access to decision making.
Other aims include ensuring through legal and political means that women have the opportunity to participate as responsible members in their communities’ development and growth. In addition, it encourages the affiliation of all women NGO’s in the country to come under its platform.
The organisation has within the 60 years of existence, improved on the life of many Nigerian women especially the down trodden and has addressed a lot of gender-based issues that affect the Nigerian women.
The formation of the National Council of Women’s Societies was prompted due to the large number of women’s organisations in the Western region during the nation’s First Republic.
In March 1958, members of these women organisations attended a meeting in Ibadan to discuss the establishment of an umbrella organisation to unite women in the country. NCWS was formally inaugurated in 1959 as an organisation for women’s group in the country.
During the 60th anniversary celebration recently at the Women Development Centre Abuja, with the theme “The Change Leadership And Gender Balance: A Transformative Dimension To National Development”, national president of NCWS, Mrs Gloria Laraba Shoda, said the organisation, under her watch, has endeavoured to become a loud voice in public space to say enough is enough as they will not stand by and let women suffer violations of their right.
Another strong area of concern the council has been advocating is human trafficking as it concerns the Nigerian woman in conjunction with the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP).
Shoda said the NCWS condemned in strong terms, the sexual exploitation of girls and women. She added that through research, the council realised that advocacy and intervention programs like; Human Trafficking awareness training; Engaging faith groups to be aware of what occurs in their food; anti trafficking projects; creation of job opportunities; closer monitoring of our borders/ partnership with immigration and securing tougher punishments amongst others could be initiated.
Drastic improvement on health care services of expectant mothers and children, which is critical to nation’s growth, is another struggle the council is going all out for.
Shoda said the healthcare services for expectant mothers and children must also be, accessible, adequate and affordable since millions of women reside in remote areas urging the federal government to factor them in Health care thinking in the country.
She further called on the ministry of health to improve on its budgetary allocation to services relating to women and children.
“We must take antenatal care services to the rural women and increase the number of safe deliveries through new initiatives. The traditional birth attendant system has shown itself to be reliable; we need to continue it nationwide.
“There should be a system whereby pregnant women are promptly registered so the possibility of late and labour complications are avoided.
“Our healthcare delivery systems, primary, secondary and tertiary should be pushed up the ladder of priorities and well funded, equipped including ambulances and well staffed with professionally trained hands”, Shoda further said.
She called on all sectors in Nigeria responsible for expectant mothers and children to be committed in all their activities towards reduction of mortality and morbidity related to pregnancy and childbirth.
The president of NCWS further said the organisation wants all forms of discriminations against women to be brought to an end so that they will be treated with fairness, justice and equity.
The organisation is also currently struggling for level playing grounds for greater participation in representation in politics, decision-makings in public policy processes and political leadership.
Indeed, the NCWS has, over the years, advocated to all insures that are injurious to the right of the Nigerian woman. Its leader said as time goes on, they hope that women will get as much right as men in the country.
They look forward to a time when there will be equal representation in all national deliberations at all levels since women constitute 50 per cent of the country’s population.
One major correction that the council looks forward to is addressing the imbalances embedded in the Federal Character Commission, which restricts married women form utilising their husband’s state of origin for contesting election and preventing women from having career moves in their husband’s state of origin.
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