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Achieving gender equity through leadership training, advocacy

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Gender Equality. PHOTO: Europeanmovement.eu

As part of efforts to achieve gender equity through leadership training and advocacy, Rise Up in partnership with Cummins Foundation have commenced a one week training on leadership and advocacy for Civil Society Organisations (CSOS) working on women and girls issues.

Over the years, Rise Up has played a crucial role in health, education and equity by enabling girls, youth and women to transform their own lives, communities and countries.

According to the United Nations (UN), women and girls represent half of the world’s population and therefore also half of its potential. But, today gender inequality persists everywhere and limits social progress.

In some countries, girls are deprived of access to health care, education or proper nutrition, leading to a higher mortality rate. Globally, nearly 15 million girls under age 18 are married every year.

In Nigeria today gender inequality is influenced by different cultures and beliefs. In most parts of the country, women are considered subordinate to their male counterparts.

Similarly, United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that Nigeria has the highest rate of out of school children of about 10.5 million as 60 per cent consist of the girl child.

Programme Coordinator, Rise Up, Chantal Hildebrand, said they invest in visionary leaders, and innovative solution to achieve large-scale change through leadership development advocacy capacity building, innovative grant making and storytelling.

She said the training should be able to define and explain issues impacting women and girls in Nigeria, equipped with a deeper understanding of leadership and advocacy strategies that will enable them design interventions to address issues impacting women and girls in Nigeria.

Hildebrand explained that the exercise will provide an overall description of the political, cultural and religious practices and policies surround girls and women’s rights, gender equity and social justice, clearly define leadership and understand exemplary leadership practices that would contribute to their advocacy successes and also develop clear and well written advocacy strategy proposal and budgets.

Chantal added: “It is an international organisation that works around women and girls advocacy by activating girls, women and local leaders and allies. Focusing predominantly on the work in sub Saharan Africa, we do have programmes in multiple African countries and also in Latin America, Southern Asia and also in United States (US).

We work mainly with the local CSOs leaders and local NGO as well as women and girls themselves in other to push for equal right and gender equity, opportunity for women and girls and social justice.”

The Programme Coordinator said they have been working to pass over hundred laws, budgets and policies in other to improve the lives of women and girls and youths around the world, as they aim to build movement of leaders all pushing for gender equity and social justice.

“These leaders that we brought in are all working around gender based issues, girls education, sexual reproductive health and economic opportunity for women and girls. We hope they take the lessons they learn from this workshop and implement advocacy strategies in this country in other to push gender equity as an agenda moving forward for Nigeria,” she said.

Director Strategy, Africa Middle East, Cummins Foundation, Ade Obatoyinbo, said they have been developing women’s programme as they sort out credible partner, expertise in the area of women empowerment.

He continued: “We partnered with Rise Up due to their expertise strength in those regions they operate. To make sure we have developed proper empowerment for women and narrow down to the specific goals of the program making sure women are fully empowered.”

Obatoyinbo explained that Cummins Foundation has set out a broad mandate and with the engagement of community partners, those leaders and individual with the intention to figure out those areas of highest need where the potential impact is highest and focus on them with strong focus historically for technical and for secondary education.

Country Director Rise Up Nigeria, Theresa Kaka Effa, said it is important for women to be independent and have their source of livelihood.

She said that one of the things they do is to mobilise young girls to speak for themselves stressing the importance to start young so as to see things differently

Effa encouraged the CSOs to educate the ordinary person, blaming lack of knowledge for issues facing women and girls, citing the need to start civic education as early as possible so that women can understand their entitlements.

Ezenwa Okoro blamed Nigeria for playing lip service with the issues of women and girls for a long time.

He said: “For Nigeria to move forward, we have to put our women in strategic places where they will be able to contribute their quota to the national development. Women empowerment has been on the front boarder globally, Nigeria as a country has been lagging behind.”

Okoro believed that with the leadership training of CSOs would be equipped with the skills and right competencies to make a mark in the national development specifically empowering women and girls for them to have their rightful place in the society.

He thanked the Rise Up for the initiative, revealing that they will take the advocacy training to the next level so as to create a great impact in the society, sensitising all the stakeholders, policy makers engaging them properly and come up with solutions that will enable women and girls thrive in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, ‎Programme Director, ‎Child Health Organization, Vickie Uremma Onyekuru, said she believed the training would address issues around women and girls because it is practical oriented and giving varying approach to solve a particular problem.

Hildebrand continued: “We had a programme in 2014 called Champions for Change and we worked with 24 CSO across Nigeria, all working towards reproductive maternal, newborn. They did number of advocacy project centred on girls and women in other to pass laws and policies around improving maternal health outcomes in this country through better service and neo natal and antenatal and prenatal care and towards helping ensure that sexual education is taught to girls and for them to be able to make healthy choices.”

She also highlighted that CSOs have been putting pressure on government, leaders and private sectors in other to push this agenda forward so that Nigeria can be in forefront of gender equity in Africa.


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