WACOL births Women Advocacy Group to drive Leadership and Women Rights in Abia


An advocacy Group, 50/50 Action Women has been inaugurated officially in Abia State with a charge to push to end cultural norms and practices reinforcing violence against Women and Girls.
The Programme organised by Women Aid Collective(WACOL)in collaboration with Ford Foundation has ended a Two-day Training/Workshop to increase the capacity of 50 Women Leaders selected from various Women Groups to become Advocates for the elimination of harmful cultural norms targeting Women in our Society.
The Training that empowered the 50/50 Action Women with necessary skills especially on areas of Women’s Right,Leadership and Advocacy,the Elimination of Violence Against Women And Girls,Human Rights Laws,Leadership Advocacy/Lobbying and Collaboration/Networking in Abia State etc.
It was discovered that issues of FGM,Child Marriage,Disinheritance of Widows/Female Children,Preference of Male Child,Deliberate Exclusion of Women in Civil and Political Leadership etc are still practised in Abia State
The Participants were engaged in expository talks on Women’s Right Issues on the Human Rights of Women including Sexual Reproductive Health Right, SRHR and ending all forms of Violence Against Women And Girls, VAWG and other negative social norms and practices affecting Women and Girls.
The Programme was also to transform Traditional Institutions,stating the clear roles and mandate in achieving the set goals,improving access to justice by enhancing Women,s Rights and review cultural norms and practices in at least Abia Communities that will lead to adoption of a gender balanced Community Bye laws.
Other component of the Training is stating the clear roles and mandate of the 50/50 Action Women group in achieving the target goal.
The Founding Director of WACOL and Tamar SARC,Prof. Joy Ezeilo (OON) represented by the WACOL Programme Officer and the Project’s Programme Officer , Mrs Ijeoma Uzoeshi said the Training was designed to empower Women to improve their skills and understanding and also give them some skills on Advocacy and Lobbying, Negotiation and Collaboration in order to understand how best to engage some of the critical Stakeholders who included the Traditional gatekeepers, in the issues affecting women negatively.
She charged Women to own the Project as they will be the ones that will go into the various communities to educate and liberate the Women through the assistance of the key Influencers and Partners for achieving specified goals.
Her words, “We are fighting the fight that our children will no longer fight and in this fight, a lot of things will be encountered. I encourage you to forge ahead and WACOL in collaboration with Ford Foundation will give you the technical support needed to accomplish this Mission”.
She,however,lauded the Women for understanding the Mission and volunteering to join in the strategic Advocacy.
Uzoeshi insisted that a society that puts down half of its citizens cannot talk about sustained development, hence the need for women to be included in leadership, as a key to realization of Women’s right.
The Programme Officer of the Non Governmental Organisation decried that cases of violence against women, other domestic and divorce related issues, cases like wife battery, rape, female genital mutilation, harmful widowhood practices, widow hood/girl child disinheritance, property dispossession and child abandonment abound in the South-East, South-South and Nigeria as a whole.
“This Project is targeted at working towards eliminating all forms of Violence against Women and Girls especially those ones that stem from cultural norms and practices.
Most of these cultures and traditions at our community levels reinforces gender inequality”, she pointed out.
Contributing, the WACOL Head of Communications, Egodi Igwe charged the Advocacy Group to work together with the relevant Ministries as they cannot do it all alone but needs other Groups for collaboration in order to actualize/realize the change Women desire.
Earlier , in a Lecture titled, “Networking and Collaborating for Change”, delivered by one of the Resource Persons, Dr. Uche Nwoke.
Also in another Lecture titled, “Advocacy and Lobbying”, Dr. Uche Nwoke harped on the need for the Participants to understand critical issues for Advocacy and develop strategies to engage gatekeepers, duty bearers and their key Influencers including setting Advocacy targets and messaging.
Meanwhile, Members of the newly inaugurated 50/50 Action Women expressed their preparedness and readiness to bring about the needed change in the society by leading the process of change in social norms and codification of Laws.
Some members of the Advocacy Group bared their minds
Mrs Felicia Dimgba, an Elder of the Presbyterian Church , Nigeria said, “50/50 Action Women is going to be a reality in Abia State because WACOL has touched the needs of the Women.
What we are pursuing is for the benefit of the Women. We are now going to stand as a Group.
“As a Community Leader, my Secretary and I are planning on how to go back to Igbere in Bende L.G.A, of Abia State to call the Women from the 13 Autonomous Communities together and inform them that the answer to our problems have come. The answer has been showcased here. All that have been discussed here are the things that are happening among the Women in our various communities. Women are not given the opportunity to showcase their God given talents because of our cultural inclinations and inhibitions. Most of us can perform better than the men and this is an eye opener, with 50/50 Action Women we are moving on. We know our problems and we now have a voice”.
The Abia State Coordinator of Gender and Constitution Review Network, Lady Ogbo Kalu from Ohafia L.G.A of Abia State also said, “The Training came at the right time because a lot of things are going on in our society and women don’t really understand what their rights are. Now, we will go to the grassroots to educate them on their rights”.
The President , National Council of Women Society, NCWS, Abia State Chapter , Lady Eunice Nwaigwe has this to say, “Today, we have been inaugurated as Members of the 50/50 Action Women in Abia State.
Precisely, we have been zoned into three Senatorial Districts of the State and I belong to the Abia South Zone.In this Inauguration, we were charged to go into action,to make sure that anything that is surrounding the issue of violence against Women and Girls are been tackled, starting from the grassroots to the local government and state levels.
We are to focus on the Stakeholders,the key Influencers to help us bring about the change. We want Women to enjoy their rights wherever they find themselves in the Society”.
Also the Special Adviser to the Abia State Governor on Rural Women , Lady Elizabeth Uhuegbu, said, “I am an advocate of gender sensitivity, equal opportunity for both boys and girls. As a Woman Leader of my Community in Ubakala, Umuahia South L.G.A, of Abia State, there is need for me to get this information which I have gotten to add to what I already have.It is going to help me especially as the August Women Conference is approaching.I will use the knowledge I acquired here to reach out to Women in Umuahia South”.
Respectively,a Member of International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Barr. Mrs Chinyere Okezie Nwoko lauded the WACOL Team for their selfless task and prayed God to give Members of the 50/50 Action Women divine strength to carry on and implement all they have been exposed to.
The resource persons who included Barr. Helen Kalu and Dr. Uche Nwoke exposed the participants to “Women’s Right Issues”, Violence Against Women And Girls In Nigeria”; and “Women’s Transformational Leadership for Realization of Women’s Right” and “Human Rights of Women in International, Regional and National instruments and relevant SDGs”.
Advocacy and Lobbying, Networking and Collaborating for Change .
The Training had Plenary for Group Work, Drama to condemn the unfavorable role the Patriachial society imposes on Women and the formulation of Work plans for the three Senatorial Zones.
The Participants were drawn from the Academia ,Community Women Leaders,Women Chiefs, Ugoezes (Wives of Traditional Rulers) ,Women from CSOs, CBOs, FBOs,Women Professonals-NAWOJ,FIDA and Women in Business ,Female SUG Officials,PWDs, and the Media .
In a vote of thanks , Lady Ify Ezuruike thanked the Facilitators for the great gathering and all Women present for the Two day Training.