With limited access to health services and education, patriarchal norms, and mounting violence, Nigerian women struggle to gain economic opportunities and equality. Common discriminatory practices, amplified by extremist groups, subject women and girls to dangers, including forced early marriage and the possibility they will face violence for going to school.
Yet women like Zainab have not lost hope. With your help, the Women for Women International – Nigeria team provides our yearlong training program for women, as well as programs to engage men.
“The turning point in my life is when I joined Women for Women International. I heard about the program from a participant who graduated, and decided to join because she told me that I would receive both emotional and financial support from the program."
She received poultry farm training but, “During the sessions on decision-making and women’s rights, my eyes were opened. It made me appreciate myself more as a human being. I thought that only men had rights to everything. I never believed that I had rights, nor did I understand gender equality. I have always been taught that a woman has no right until marriage, and when married, her right ends with caring for her family. If she had to claim any other right, it had to be given to her by her husband. Learning that I was born with all my rights was very interesting."
For Zainab, becoming part of a support network of other women has provided her strength and the ability to stand up for her rights. “The greatest change in my life is the emotional relief I have received from the trainings offered. Being in the Women for Women International program has helped me to build friendships with women of other religions and tribes. We support each other emotionally and financially when need be. I visit their homes and they also visit mine. I am so grateful for being a part of this program.”
WfWI Nigerian Country Director Ngozi Eze calls for global action on social media to #BringBackOurGirls and ensure that the young women and girls kidnapped in Borno state are safely returned.
“On behalf of the 50,000 women graduates of our programs, we need your continued support and work to help bring back our girls. Join the global campaign to raise awareness by tweeting a message of support using #BringBackOurGirls, share this blog on Facebook, and sign up for email updates from WfWI.
Our hearts are heavy with grief for the families of the young women and girls kidnapped. Together, we echo their calls for global action to ensure their daughters are safely returned home.
Everyone in Nigeria has been affected in some way by the brazen kidnapping. While our training programs in Nigeria do not operate near Chibok in the Borno state, we are deeply frustrated that the young women and girls have not been rescued and remain extremely vulnerable to exploitation, rape and violence.
The escalating threats of violence arrive at a moment in our nation when we see growing support for educating girls and boys. Across cultural and religious lines, we see a greater recognition that empowering and educating women and girls is a key to sustaining the long-term peace and promoting economic growth and political stability.
During these difficult times, we are committed to continuing our mission to help the most marginalized women in Nigeria strengthen their families and communities. The kidnapping of these young women and girls represents a form of terror designed to frighten and discourage families from educating their children.
Educating girls and women is fundamental to rebuilding a strong and stable Nigeria, the security and ability to protect girls and women from violence is a key challenge that we must all embrace as we seek to build a peaceful and secure nation.
Since 2000, we have graduated over 51,000 women from our education and support programs. At Women for Women International we see the impact of this work — our graduates who at the time of enrollment earn on average $0.29 per day, two years after graduating, their income increases 10-fold to nearly $2.90 per day.
Our graduates are transforming their families and communities. They inspire changes as they increase their families’ income, access health education and services, learn and share knowledge about their rights, and find support networks to amplify their voices and calls for justice.”
For more insights, listen to Ngozi discuss the situation on NPR Affiliate WBEZ’s “Worldview” here.
Participants in WfWI - Nigeria's holistic, 12-month training program learn more than just a vocational skill like farming or poultry raising. They learn basic numeracy, the in's and out's of how to run a small business and how to manage household funds. When participants graduate, not only are they able to earn an income by raising chickens or growing crops, they are able to invest that income in building a better life for themselves and their families. Read on to meet Roseline, a WfWI - Nigeria graduate and learn how she is building a new life for herself using some of the skills she learned from WfWI.
Roseline is from Nrobo, Nigeria. Her father died while her mother was three months pregnant for her. Her mother sent her brothers to school, but neither Roseline nor her sisters recieved an education as her mother felt it was a waste for girls to go to school. Roseline eventually married and had one child, but her husband eventually left her. She currently cares for her daughter, and two of her husband's sons. Before WfWI, she struggled to support her family.
Training on “Understanding Financial Household Management, Household Savings, Goal Setting and Opportunities for Income Generation” motivated her to be serious with her farm. She is also able to supplement her farm income with other endevours like selling oranges, frying garri out of cassava, and harvesting and selling of palm products.
She commended her facilitator on the way she treated the topic on “women’s right and law, women and household decision making as well as ownership and inheritance”. She saved her sponsorship funds and other money from her daily and monthly income to be able to achieve her goal of building a house.
When she realized that women can own land, Roseline went to her husband’s people and asked for a piece of land. Her request was granted; a piece of land was given to her and out of her savings and other money she borrowed started building a mud house of 3 bedrooms with a veranda.
Says Roseline, “Women for women has made me proud, I am a changed person”.
Many of the women in Women for Women International – Nigeria’s program live in isolated rural communities whose economies are based upon a limited number of agricultural products. Forming a cooperative, in this context, helps prevent too many women from starting the same type of business. It also builds a strong network of community support for cooperative members and helps them to stretch their personal resources further. Habiba Nakande, a member of the Godiya Women cooperative, said: “The formation of cooperatives to us is a good long-term investment, which is going to help us.” While cooperatives are not the sole source of income for most of their members, they provide women with a practical way to supplement their income.
In the third month of the sponsorship program, Women for Women International – Nigeria, introduces program participants to the nuts and bolts of cooperatives. They help women to identify potentially profitable business areas, navigate the legal process to officially register as a cooperative business, open a bank account and locate trainers to help them develop the technical and business skills they will need. Once the cooperatives are formed, they continue to receive advice and support from the organization.
There are many different types of cooperatives, including a group that makes batik products, one that leases a well and sells water and another that produces soap. Women in the program are pleased with the opportunity that being in a cooperative provides them. In the words of Hauwa Aminu, another member of Godiya Women: “Being in the cooperative makes me feel very secure and successful in business and in life.”
The poultry farming cooperatives also do very well. One group of 18 former program participants has formed an egg-production cooperative to supplement other incomes. Their chickens lay about 60 eggs a day. These sell for about fourteen cents an egg. That's about $128 a month in gross revenue. Subtract feed at $13 a bag each week and monthly rent of $22 a month, and that leaves $54 to be split 18 ways-- $3 for each women in the group. The group is pleased with this early income and only hope to see it increase as their cooperative grows.
Meet WfWI - Nigeria graduate Roseline Oluchi Ugwu. In addition to learning a vocational skill so they can start a small business, like a poultry farm, participants in WfWI's programs learn valuable business skills and recieve rights awareness training, so they can not only earn an income from their business, but use that income to help themselves and their families thrive.
Roseline Oluchi Ugwu is one of the participants of women for women program in Nrobo. She has one child (a girl) as well as two adopted boys.
Her father died while her mother was three months pregnant with her. She had 6 sibilings. She never went to school. The girls in the family did not attend school because her mother perceived education at that time as a waste of time and resources for females, but her brothers were allowed to attend school.
Roseling was not happy with a whole lot of things- giving birth to only one child, her husband leaving her for another woman and also the fact that she had no money and no work.
Enrolling in the WfWI program helped her see new opportunities. Training on "Understanding Financial Household Management, Household Savings, Goal Setting and Opportunities for Income Generation" motivated her to be serious with her business and she was able to find additional business opportunities like selling oranges, frying garri out of cassava, harvesting and selling of palm products that gave her an additional income.
She commended her facilitator on the way she treated the topic on "women's rights and law, women and household decision making as well as ownership and interhitance." She saved her sponsorship funds and other money from her daily and monthly income to be able to achieve her goal of building a house.
Roseline realized that women can own land and went to her husband’s people and requested a piece of land. Her request was granted; a piece of land was given to her and out of her savings and other money she borrowed started building a mud house of 3 bedrooms with veranda.
Says Roseline, "Women for women has made me proud, I am a changed person”.
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