STRONGER WOMEN, A STRONGER NIGERIA A proposal from Women for Women International “Empowered women are the best hope for sustainable development following conflict…the best drivers of growth, the best hope for reconciliation, and the best buffer against the repetition of cycles of violence.” Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, March 2015
MEET ROSELINE, MOTHER-OF-SEVEN FROM NIGERIA Roseline, a 45-year old mother-of-seven, has spent her life subject to an age-old tradition in which as the only daughter, she will forever be considered her parent’s property: “I am never to marry. I can have children, but the child will bear my father’s name…the men disappear and I go through pregnancy and delivery alone”. Despite Nigeria’s commitment to equal rights, women still bear the tyranny of unequal customs such as this. But, through the Women for Women International (WfWI) programme, Roseline realised that she holds the power to shape her life with vocational skills to earn a stable income as well as a potent new understanding of gender equality, which she believes will improve her children’s futures: “What I have learned can neither be quantified nor measured. I learned how to write my name and this is what I never dreamed of in my whole life. I learned that a man and a woman have equal rights in the family…I can’t stop telling people about equality in raising boys and girls!” Since 2000, WfWI has supported over 52,000 women through our year-long holistic training to advance their participation in society, help women to earn an income, and understand their rights. But, for every woman we have reached there remain thousands in need of our services. An investment of £100,000 will support 220 marginalised women through our 12-month programme to help them break free from poverty, and gain the confidence to participate in family and community decision-making.
INTRODUCTION The momentous elections in Nigeria – which will see the unprecedented peaceful handover of power from President Goodluck Jonathan to General Muhammadu Buhari – is beginning to instil hope in a nation that has experienced the trauma of the deadly Ebola virus, advancing extremism and terrorism, and increasing poverty and corruption. Boko Haram’s increased attacks in the north – particularly on women and girls – alongside traditions that infringe women’s rights, continue to threaten women’ and girls’ rights. Yet as Buhari prepares for office, Nigerians are daring to hope: Could 2015 be the year of opportunity for women’s rights in Nigeria? WfWI equips the most marginalised women in war-affected countries with the skills and knowledge to break free from poverty and rebuild communities. As Nigeria prepares for its new government, our programme is needed now more than ever to combat the poverty and extremist ideologies that threaten women’s freedom. We are working to entrench women’s participation in communities, particularly in communities such as Jos, which has seen a rapid recent influx of northerners escaping the tyranny of Boko Haram. We are seeking an investment of £100,000 in our much-needed Nigeria programme to support 220 marginalised women to gain the skills, knowledge, and resources to break free from poverty and protect their rights.
SITUATION OVERVIEW: WHAT CHALLENGES ARE FACING WOMEN IN NIGERIA? Despite its status as Africa’s largest economy and one of the world’s top oil suppliers, decades of poor governance, rampant corruption, and the rapidly increasing population is reversing Nigeria’s development. Approximately 120 million people, from a total population of 170 million, live on or marginally above $1.25 per day – a figure that has more-than doubled since 1981. This is particularly evident in rural areas, where years of neglect, lack of investment, and poor infrastructure have resulted in a dependence on subsistence farming, informal markets, poverty and hunger, reducing their resilience against attacks from extremist groups whose recent onslaught continues to terrorise the nation. Nigeria’s staggering need is reflected in the situation of its women. Entrenched patriarchal practices, combined with rising insecurity means women bear a disproportionate burden of disadvantage. Customs – such as early and forced marriage, prioritising boys’ education over girls’, and restrictions on women’s ownership of land – limit women’s abilities to access formal work or participate in the local economy, hindering their progress and keeping them in poverty. The World 1
It is estimated that in 1980, 27% of the population (19.9 million people of a population of 73.7 million) were living on less than $1.25 per day. By 1996 this had risen to 69% (76.3 million people of a population of 111.2 million). Source: World Bank
Bank estimates that only 50% of women in Nigeria are literate, compared to 75% of men. This systemic discrimination means that women are often unaware of their and lack many legal protections, leaving them vulnerable to harassment, insecurity, and violence. Statistics reveal that in Jos, where our programme operates, one in four women have experienced violence by their partner. The advancing infringement on women’s rights in Nigeria cannot be ignored, and for its future stability, women must be empowered to participate in the economy. OECD research shows that women reinvest 90% of their earnings into their families, compared to 40% by men, sending their children to school, accessing healthcare, and providing nutritious meals. Thus, women’s economic empowerment is widely acknowledged as a fundamental requirement for sustainable development, pro-poor growth, and the establishment of just and equitable societies. Empowering women is smart economics.
OUR PROGRAMME: HOW WILL WfWI TACKLE THESE CHALLENGES? Since 2000, WfWI has been operating predominately in Enugu, in the south; with a smaller presence in Jos, which lies at the border between the Christian south and the Muslim north. The communities have little or no infrastructure, and the main sources of income are subsistence farming, pastoralism and small trade. Tensions between the self-acclaimed ‘indigenous’ and ‘settler’ groups in Jos have caused intense conflict since 2001. More recently, an estimated 35,000 displaced people are seeking refuge from Boko Haram in Plateau State, of which Jos is the capital – placing additional strain on communities. Due to the vast levels of need in Jos, and the increased levels of violence and unrest, WfWI will be scaling up activities in Jos during 2015-2016. Community assessments in Jos show that agriculture and livestock represent the main occupation in these communities, yet a majority of women face considerable gaps in knowledge and skills. Many require support to learn better farming techniques, developing business skills, and accessing finance. Furthermore, traditional customs and laws in some regions prevent women from owning or running their own enterprises, and so despite women occupying 60-80% of the rural workforce, men are five-times more likely to own land. Without owning land, many women cannot secure business loans to start a business, or purchase high quality seeds. WfWI has pioneered a holistic approach to women’s empowerment that aims to reduce poverty and promote gender equality among socially-excluded women in Jos, by building their self-reliance and active participation in family and community decision-making. In order to achieve this ambitious aim in Nigeria, we are seeking an investment of £100,000 to support 220 women through our transformative training programme in Jos: WfWI’s 12-month Empowerment Programme: Combining life-skills with practical vocational and business skills, women come together in classes of 25 to complete a rights-based curriculum that focuses on their social and economic development. Each woman participating in the programme receives a training stipend of $10 a month to cover basic needs. Many women choose to save part of this money to help them establish their own businesses. (a) Life skills and rights education: Divided into four modules, women learn about economic and social empowerment:
Module I: Earning and saving money. Tackles notions that women’s work is less valuable and should be unpaid or underpaid; as well as customs that prevent women from controlling assets, property, and their own incomes. Women learn about savings, credit, household budgets, and opportunities for income generation.
Module II: Health and Wellbeing. Provides women with an understanding of their bodies and how to care for themselves and their children. Women learn about communicable diseases, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, mental health and hygiene.
Spotlight on Ngozi Eze WfWI-Nigeria Country Director
Ngozi Eze manages WfWI’s programmes that have served more than 52,000 women across Nigeria since 2000. She is a champion of women’s rights, and her bravery in reaching out to the most marginalised women and girls, to stand up for their education, has transformed thousands of lives. As WfWI-Country Director, she has initiated programmes to educate women about HIV/AIDS and to challenge female genital cutting and widowhood rituals. Following increased violence between Christian and Muslim communities, Ngozi bravely organised joint training sessions to help rebuild trust between women from both religions. She pioneered a men’s training programme to teach male community leaders on women’s rights –which has since been introduced into other WfWI country programmes.
Module III: Family and Community Decision Making. Equips women with the knowledge required to access opportunities, such as acquiring land, or contributing to family decisions, such as those on household finances, family planning and children’s schooling. Women learn about equality, rights and the law - with special emphasis on owning and inheriting property; marriage, divorce and child custody; and domestic violence and rape.
Module IV: Social Networks and Safety Nets. Introduces women to the value of working with each other in groups, or social networks. It teaches them how to build effective networks, plan for group advocacy and manage leadership issues.
(b) Vocational skills training: Our market assessment in Jos has determined that agriculture-based vocational tracks are most promising for women in Jos, given their local resources. Therefore, women can choose to specialise in one of the following vocational tracks: Agriculture: Focusses on sustainable farming including crop rotation, seeds, and pest management. Poultry production: Focusses on skills such as egg selection, meat processing, and marketing. Piggeries: Focusses on raising and processing pigs, including feeding and reproduction. (c) Business skills and cooperative training: Women also attend dedicated business skills training to help them sustain an income from their vocational skill. These 11 sessions provide knowledge on topics such as business basics, credit, entrepreneurship, planning, selling, bookkeeping, and financing. Finally, women learn how to establish and manage group businesses through training that provides an understanding about the individual rights and roles as group members, and the mechanics of collective decision-making. (d) Numeracy training: Basic numeracy training is offered to women that are innumerate, so that they can learn to count, add/subtract, and use money, which is essential for their social and economic empowerment.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION Our data show that just one year of transformative training is helping women in Nigeria to raise their income, save money, provide nutritious meals and understand their rights. Data gathered from our 2013 Nigeria graduates show that: At graduation, participants report earning an average of $2.65 a day, up from just $0.47 a day at enrolment. At graduation, 93% of participants report saving a portion of their income, compared to 65% at enrolment 91% report practicing good nutrition at graduation, up from 35% at enrolment. 94% report good knowledge of their rights at graduation, compared to only 10% at enrolment; 99% report participating in social networks at graduation, compared to 73% at enrolment. FUNIDNG NEED We are seeking a vital investment in our much-needed programme in Nigeria to help us meet our ambitious aims. Costing approximately £453 per woman for the year-long programme, we want to raise £100,000 to expand our programme in Jos, to reach another 220 women. CONCLUSION Our programme is helping to open opportunities for women whose lives have so far been characterised by poor access to education, services, and resources – because we know that with access to skills development and economic resources, combined with greater confidence and an understanding of their rights, marginalised women can have more control over their lives, exert influence within their families and communities, and strengthen their fractured communities through informed participation. Enabling women to earn sustainable incomes and build peace does not just improve individual lives, but it also strengthens communities. We do hope that you share our sense of hope for Nigerian women and will be inspired to support us to reach more women in Jos. On behalf of all the women we work with in Nigeria, thank you for considering this proposal. For more information visit our website www.womenforwomen.org.uk or email Nicola firstname.lastname@example.org