The Country Director, Rise Up Nigeria, Mrs Theresa Effa has called on government at all levels to pay attention to health, development and gender issues affecting women and girls in the country.
She said Nigeria has beautiful policies that touch on improving the lives of women and girls, but that implementation has been the major challenge.
Stating this at a workshop where representatives of various Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) were trained in Lagos recently, she said putting out policies mean that the government recognises the problem and intends to address the problem but that it was saddening there are still a lot of gender and other issues to contend with in the country.
Effa explained that, “Rise Up was focused on advancing health, development and gender amongst women and girls and we work most especially with civil society leaders to strengthen their leadership and advocacy skills in order for them to undertake advocacy efforts that would improve their lives in Nigeria.”
She observed that in April, the organisation initiated the gender equity initiative with a leadership and advocacy workshop for seven days strictly for 20 selected leaders.
On the impact of the programme, she explained that, “the trained leaders have been groomed to ask strategic questions from Nigerian leaders on what they will do in terms of advancing social justice for women and girls.
“Rise Up has trained more than 200 people in Nigeria, but for this particular gender equity project that we initiated in April this year, we have trained 40 people.
“After this second training and especially because it is an election year, we want to see how this group of civil society leaders will engage our new leaders and see how far their engagement would be impactful and also bring the necessary results we want to see”.
She explained that the trained leaders were selected from organisations committed to women/girls and wellbeing rights and that the training was to strengthen their leadership skills, build their advocacy capacity and develop a holistic understanding of the issues affecting women and girls in Nigeria.
The Programme Manager, Rise Up Africa, Chantal Hildebrand, said: “As we see from global data, when women are in a leadership position with gender equity within government, the country is better, stronger, healthier, happier and have better opportunities. Women need to be actively involved in decision making with their inputs taken into account at the same level as their men.”
She said as Nigeria prepares for election come next year, there was need for Nigerian women to learn about their candidates, ask them their plans for women and girls, hold them to account and ensure there are strategies in place to protect women and girls.
The Managing Director, Cummins West Africa limited, Ade Obatoyinbo, said the mission of the two organisations was centred on making peoples’ lives better by empowering a more prosperous world.