By Josephine Agbonkhese
As part of long term strategy towards addressing low representation in governance among women, over 100 female undergraduates from across tertiary institutions in Lagos State have been trained and formally handed over to various Purple Clubs operated by VoicesforChange, a UK/DFID funded program, in the state.
The girls were originally members of the Young Women Purple Hub, a WhatsApp group of women and girls trained for about one-year by the Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre, WARDC.
Explaining the rationale behind grooming young women for leadership and governance, Founding Director, WARDC, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, lamented that young women were often left out of political and economic spaces.
“Discriminatory laws and attitudes still prevail, denying them access to equal opportunities and decision-making positions of power. We are of the firm opinion that young women can serve as catalysts for national growth if engaged early in leadership, with their interest sustained and capacities built.”
“To achieve this, series of activities, including an annual retreat and a mentoring programme for young women between the ages of 18 and 25, were implemented. The retreat provided a platform to build their capacities on leadership, public speaking skills and networking. Meanwhile, the mentoring program aimed at building their self-confidence within a highly supportive network by connecting them with established women and organisations that aided their personal and professional development through one-on-one mentoring,” Akiyode-Afolabi added.
Ruth Okonya, Lagos State Coordinator, VoicesforChange, on her part, enthused that the various Purple Clubs into which the girls were being integrated, would further strengthen their skills and serve as platforms to begin work with men as partners in progress.
“Our Purple Clubs present in all tertiary institutions in Lagos State comprise young boys and girls trained on soft skills, confidence, leadership, negotiation and sexuality, as well as skills necessary for seeking a gender equitable society. They will further help these girls from the Young Women Purple Hub with knowledge and confidence that can help them beyond the four walls of the university,” Okonya said.