5 Important Things to know In Engaging Women to Develop Local Gender and Social Development Action Plan

In march  2016, the Centre for 21st century issues on behalf of Educational Coperative society  facilitated   a two day workshop for the development of a 5 year Gender and social development Action plan for Itamapako Community in Ogun state of Nigeria. It was a participatory strategic planning event  aimed at engaging community women to lead in planning and addressing community basic needs that are not yet attended to. The specific objective of the workshop is to promote communal processes, which can help expand the active presence of women in concerted processes of development in Itamapako area of Ogun State.

It was a highly interactive workshop that saw the women take ownership of the process. About 36 women drawn from the 6 Communities that make up Itamapako participated in the workshop.  The women were passionate and eager to work in solidarity to move their community forward

The 5 important  things to know in the process of developing a Local Gender and Social Development Action Plan were brought to the fore during the workshop and they are;

  1. Engaging women as a groups on their own terms to identify community needs helps to bring out the real issues that requires urgent  intervention in the community-The women showed in-depth knowledge of their community, they profiled their community by giving detailed information of water sources, festivals , state of basic amenities, major economic activities, religion  and other information. They identified their needs and ranked them in order of importance.  Some of the key issues identified for urgent action are, revitalization of their abandoned market, access to portable water provision of public toilets in the community, provision of clean cook stoves and women’s human rights training for political empowerment.
  2. Women have informed opinion about community needs– The women gave articulate justification for all the issues identified. On the market issue they gave vivid account of how miscreants used to scare them away from the market by placing  fetish sacrifices at the centre of the market. They know it was the handy work of herbalist in the community supporting some groups who wants the market taken away from their community to another place.
  3. Women have the capacity to self organize and  negotiate for changes -It was interesting to see the Itamapako women provided practical solutions to all the challenges identified in the community. One of innovative strategy they came up with was to form a negotiating team made of women leaders to meet with the traditional rulers of the communities. They sighted instances of occasions where women leaders had taken up the challenge to meet with traditional rulers to speak with herbalist in the communities to stop preparing sacrifices that are placed at the market square. They were able to organize themselves to access seedlings to introduce plantain cultivation in the community.
  4. Women are ready to contribute to the development of their community-Each woman participating in the workshop made at least one  commitment to towards the successful implementation of the action plan developed. Some women volunteered to identify areas where public toilet can be situate, some volunteered to raise awareness about availability of adult literacy classes, some decided to team up with the community Development forum to monitor the repairs going on in the community  primary school, others joined the team that will clean up the market.
  5.   Women are interested in learning more about women’s right and gender mainstreaming for political empowerment In as much as the women expressed fears about  the perception and resistance from men about their political aspiration they still  voiced the need for a systemic women’s right training that will galvanize them to take appropriate step to attain political decision making positions in the community. According to them knowledge is power . They are of the opinion that their  inadequate knowledge about women’s rights issues is a stumbling block to articulating practical strategies to participate meaningfully in the political space.

    A key lesson learnt in the process is  that its  is of crucial importance to provide the space  for women to be able to voice their needs and be drivers of change that will transform their community.

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C21st Participation In International Indigenous Women Forum Training

 

Ms Della Ilenre, the focal point on  indigenous issues for Centre for 21st century (C21st) participated in the 2016 training on Human Rights and International advocacy conducted by International Indigenous women Forum.  It was a six weeks course divided into two-phase. The first phase was online while the second phase was a face to face meeting which took place in New York.

During the six weeks training Ms Ilenre had the opportunity to learn about the framework of international policy as it relates to International law. She also had  the opportunity to study intensively the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), the ILO Convention No 169, Convention On the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and many other international Instruments.

The face to face training which took place at the  Columbia University, New York from 2-13 May 2016 was a big eye-opener, it opened up a platform of indigenous women working  in solidarity for  measurable impacts on the ground. The struggle for the enthronement  and enjoyment of rights of indigenous Peoples and particularly of indigenous women requires strong connections to the global indigenous movement.

The training gives a robust information on how local struggles can influence global struggles and vice versa.  It stimulates the identification of peculiar national issues which have hitherto been neglected and re-directs and sharpens the vision for deeper, result oriented lobbying and advocacy processes.

During the training session in New York, Ms Della participated in the United Nations Permanent forum on Indigenous Issues, a big forum which opened up the space to  meet indigenous rights activists, learn, share experiences and imbibe best practices which is needed to organize and  develop better strategy to meet the target of C21st with respect to indigenous issues.

The training undoubtedly , has set the tone for the take off of c21st indigenous rights advocacy in Nigeria. The support , boldness and capacity instilled in Ms  Della is already  been put into action. She is currently working   with policy makers at the House of Assembly in Nigeria, discussing  strategies on how to bring the voices of indigenous groups and minorities into policy processes , building the capacity of policy makers and indigenous Peoples

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