The tone of the one-day strategic meeting organised by both organisations to “Develop Action Plans on Priority Actions of WfWI Change Agents” in Abuja was set by the country director, WfWI, Mrs Bukola Onyichi, when she disclosed that in the last five years, the group had empowered about 5,200 women in the rural areas economically to enable them speak against all forms of Gender-based Violence (GBV).
Onyichi said the period saw the organisation training 1,000 women yearly with a signature programme combining social and economic empowerment programme. “We are empowering the women to know their rights, about wellness, their health, money and importance of engaging in solidarity by forming a common purpose and pursing it, that is the social empowerment activities.”
She said, “For the economic empowerment activities, we have training on numeracy, where women learn number skills because for any business you must know your numbers. Some of them have never been to school, but just to help them improve their business record-keeping. We also teach them how to use the calculator. Then business skill training takes the women into different sessions on various aspects and rudiments of business, presentation of their goods/wares, how to engage with customers and other basic things to sustain their business.
“They also learn skills from us. The women must choose one of the skill packs and run it for six months. We run concurrently with the social empowerment training while engaging with the women throughout the 12 months.
“Truly, over the years, what we see is that it boosts the women’s economy, many of them are able to start businesses and send their children to school,” she said.
Also at the meeting, director, programme and administration of WRAPA, Ms Anisa Ari, said the action plan was one of the sustainability plans because “if they have it, they will be able to use it to get funding to continue to do the work they are doing because WfWI that has been supporting them will not be there forever. So, we need to empower and equip them with what they can use and keep running with it.”
She said WRAPA wants to take it a step further by providing tools that they can be used in marketing by amplifying the work they do and also seek funding from organisations or from the government.
“Basically, we are doing a consolidation of all the support we have given for past three months. We are consulting with the ‘change agents’ and understanding their challenges and going into discussion on bringing about community-driven solutions in those places.
”What WRAPA is also supporting them to do is to collate all of the strategies and solutions that have been proffered from the beginning and form them into tangible action plans that are realistic and measurable that these women can take back home and use as advocacy and tools to advocate and sensitise on the work they are doing and also use them as tools to get funding to continue the work they are doing in their communities.
“The work is not easy because it requires a lot of resources but they are doing it sacrificially and they are so selfless in it because these are things that affect them, their families and communities and because it has touched them in places where most of us cannot explain, that is their passion that we cannot explain that keep pushing them to create a change in their communities.
“We want to take it a step further by providing a tool that they can use in marketing by amplifying the work they are doing and also seek funding from organisations and the government.
“The action plan is one of the sustainability initiatives because if they have it, they will be able to use it to get funding to continue to work because WfWI that has been supporting them will not be there forever. So, we need to equip them with what they can use and keep running with it,” she said.
One of the beneficiaries of the training (change agent) Tamwakat Hassan said she would go back to her community and educate women on rape and also encourage them to educate their children.
She appealed to the government to implement the VAPP Act so that people would know that when the law catches up with them, they will be sanctioned.
“When we started it was not easy but by the grace of God we are succeeding. We have been advocating for our women and even the men too.
“We come together in advocacy and most of our people know what we have impacted on them. Even our traditional rulers, they are supporting us. We plead with them on what we want to impact on the people and they’re supporting us.
“This has brought changes in our communities because before now things were tough but they are getting better now. The first advocacy we did was for women to do something for themselves like managing their own businesses, land inheritance and fight against rape issues,” she stated.
WRAPA is a registered non-governmental organisation (NGO) with a mandate for the promotion, protection and realisation of women’s human rights, the elimination of all forms of repugnant practices and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) with the aim of enhancing their living standards.
The organisation seeks to advance and protect the rights of women as provided by national laws, policies, regional, international treaties and agreements.
While WfWI has over the years been instrumental to strengthening the voice of women to understand and assert their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution and other treaties that Nigeria is a signatory to.