By Abdiel Kude, GFP Volunteer from Nigeria
What are some of the issues women face in Nigeria:
Some societal issues women face in Nigeria relate to low self-perception (a large number of women do not see themselves as pro-anything), low self esteem, relegation by men in the community and society at large, imbalance in education (when families support a higher level of education for male offspring as opposed to female family members), early marriage, teenage pregnancy, poor livelihood skills, and religious and cultural beliefs that further disempower women. All of the issues mentioned are informally, but powerfully, sustained by folklore, cultural, and religious norms and values.
You are currently conducting a women’s Empowerment for Peace programme with your fellow volunteers: why now and why this programme?
This programme aims to build women’s individual livelihood skills that will, in turn, increase their capacity to break free from the poverty cycle. It also focuses on developing decision-making skills that will enable them to integrate into community life and their society at large, with an overall aim of increasing social cohesion.
What role should men play in supporting women in leadership and decision-making positions?
I think the best role men can play in supporting women in leadership and decision-making positions is an affirmative one. Men should affirm competent and capable women, seeing that incompetence is not a virtue. The development of skilled women with the potential to take up leadership and decision-making roles will be a huge investment, with even greater returns.
What are your hopes for the programme?
My hopes for the programme are that it should succeed for the women participating in it, and that their livelihood skills are built to a point that they are self-reliant. Also, that they will find their place, enabling them to properly integrate into their community life by getting involved in decision-making processes. Finally, I hope they become role models that other women aspire to be like. Nothing is more powerful in a community than a successful role model. Once the results are visible to the community, the rate of acceptance and adoption of the values and practices displayed by the individual modelling those values is much higher, and the impact more sustainable.
Why Generations For Peace?
I volunteer with GFP because they have helped me put a lot of life issues in focus. I have previously volunteered with many other organisations, and I still do, but GFP has helped me move away from stereotype thinking. Working with GFP has also helped me develop a more grounded and positive approach to life, including maintaining good relationships. GFP has a well-tested behavioural change programme approach that is targeted at small groups and at the community level – right where change happens. And they keep improving on it. Furthermore, it is always good to work with an organisation that holds high standards as GFP does. The way I see it, GFP volunteers, like myself, simply need to key into the GFP approach and hang in there!
What drives you to do the work that you do?
From a much younger age, I knew that I would not be doing a regular job like some choose to do. I did not want to work for the government or a corporate establishment. I felt compelled by my family to take up a government job at one point in my life, but I only did that for six months before I resigned. My terrain is the community, with the people. The size of the group does not affect the work; however most times I say smaller is better. I seek to drive change at the community level. It has not been easy, especially as different people have varied views of what change means, so coordinating these differences and achieving one direction is critical.
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