By Chioma Obinna & Juliet Umeh
Undoubtedly, Nigeria women and girls are faced with significant challenges in attaining their full potentials. Today, it is no longer news that women and children are the most hits in terms accessing quality education, health, employment and leadership in public and private sectors.
Also, the general belief among many Nigerians that a woman’s place is in the kitchen has continued to hamper their effectiveness in their career and other areas of life.
However, these and other factors have continued to impede on the efforts of organisations, including the women attaining their potentials. In line with this, stakeholders working on issues affecting women have identified poor policy implementation as a major factor depriving women Nigerian women from achieving their goals.
According to them, building advocacy capacity of civil society leaders that will in turn push agendas of the women in governance advance gender equity and bring about change in the communities.
Just last week, some of the organisations pushing for social justice for girls and women in Nigeria, Rise Up in collaboration with Cummins Incorporated stressed the need for the Nigerian government to implement women-friendly policies that touch on all the issues affecting women in Nigeria.
According to them, “Nigeria has beautiful policies that are capable of addressing significant obstacles facing girls and women in reaching their full potentials but the implementation of these policies has over the years remain a challenge, thereby limiting them to achieving their goals.”
In the views of the programme manager for Rise Up, Africa, Chantal Hildebrand, “As we see from global data when women are in a leadership position, there is gender equity within government, the country is better, stronger, healthier, happier and have better opportunities. It is more than ensuring that women are somewhere, we don’t want women in talking places, we want to ensure that women are actively being able to be part of the decision and their inputs are taken into account at the same level as their men.”
She said as Nigeria prepares for election come next year, there is a need for Nigerian women to learn about their candidates, ask them their plans for women and girls, hold them to account and ensure there are strategies in place to protect women and girls.
She explained that the leadership training organised by Rise Up for civil society leaders was to prepare them to see the value of women in decision making as well as advocate for them.
“We have only selected 20 leaders from Kaduna and Lagos for this phase; they will be spreading this information and training more people. Sometimes you know pass 10-20 humans and then continuing to do the work in their own organisations,” she noted.
In the views of the Country Director of Rise Up Nigeria, Mrs Theresa Effa said: “Nigeria has beautiful policies that touch on all the issues we are talking about but the implementation is the major challenge. That is why we need to continue the advocacy to remind government to pay more attention to issues affecting women and girls. Putting out a policy means that they recognize the problem and intend to address the problem but they are not addressing the problem. “
Effa explained that Rise Up was focused on advancing health, development and gender amongst women and girls and work most especially with civil society leaders to strengthen their leadership and advocacy skills in order for them to undertake advocacy efforts that would improve the lives of women and girls in Nigeria.
She observed that in April, the organisation initiated the gender equity initiative with a leadership and advocacy workshop for seven days strictly for 20 selected leaders.
On the impact of the programme, she explained that the trained leaders have been groomed to ask strategic questions from Nigerian leaders on what they will do in terms of advancing social justice for women and girls.
“Rise Up has trained more than 200 people in Nigeria, but for this particular gender equity project that we initiated in April this year, we have trained 40 people. After this second training and especially because it is an election year, we want to see how this group of civil society leaders will engage our new leaders and see how far their engagement will be Impactful and also bring the necessary results we want to see.
She explained that the trained leaders were selected from organisations committed to women/girls and wellbeing right and that the training was to strengthen their leadership skills, build their advocacy capacity and develop a holistic understanding of the issues affecting women and girls in Nigeria.
On the part of the Managing Director of Cummins West Africa limited, Ade Obatoyinbo, the mission of the two organisations was centred on making peoples’ lives better by empowering a more prosperous world.