Tuesday, November 5, 2019


The passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP Law) in Enugu State, Nigeria

Enugu State lawmakers in April 2019 passed into Law the Bill seeking to eliminate violence against persons here in Enugu State. The Bill, which was a private member bill, meant to eliminate all forms of violence against persons in both public and private lives, was sponsored by Hon. Chukwuka Eneh representing Udi South Enugu State, Nigeria. This Bill effectively criminalizes various acts of violence like child marriage, female Genital Mutilation (FGM), rape, unfair widowhood practices, wife battery etc here in Enugu.

What not too many people know was that they were various organizations here in Enugu State, Nigeria who played various leading roles to ensure that this Bill was passed into law. It was indeed appalling and disheartening to see that after this Bill was passed that no major radio, television station and print houses made allusion to this great contribution. This is indeed sad because I for one know that if not for these organizations, the passage of this Bill would have been greatly jeopardized here in Enugu.

As the chairman of the Legislative Advocacy Coalition (LAC), which was a coalition of organizations here in Enugu that advocated for this passage. I will not fail to mention that organizations such as Women aid collective (WACOL), Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP), Tamar SARC etc played a great role in this regard. They all worked together and came under one umbrella called the Legislative Advocacy Coalition (LAC).

They did not just dedicate their time, but also their resources in ensuring that this Bill was passed. As the chairman of this great coalition, I therefore wish to commend everyone and not just the foregoing who played one role or the other in ensuring that this Bill was passed. You all are the real heroes!

Written by:
Mr Chukwudi Ojiedo (Chairman LAC)


Tuesday, August 6, 2019



                             Using Soccer to help change norms around Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting (FGM/C)
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting is a practice, which is deeply rooted in not just patriarchy and traditions here in Nigeria, but in also various misconceptions. One of such misconceptions here in Nigeria is that FGM/C curbs the girl child promiscuity. According to 28TOOMANY (UK), 20 million women and girls currently have been either mutilated/cut here in Nigeria. It is also projected that if nothing is done that by 2030, an additionally 20 million women and girls will undergo FGM/C in Nigeria. FGM/C is a social norm in Nigeria in the sense that many families engage in it simply because others are doing it. It is a practice, which communities have come to accept as their culture and as their way of life.
Late last year in Nigeria, Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP) an organization committed to ending FGM/C here in Nigeria carried out a project called “Kick out FGM/C”. This project was aimed at using soccer as a tool to change norms around FGM/C in Nigeria. This project was implemented in Akwuke community of Enugu State, Nigeria. Before SIRP embarked on this project, they noticed that first and foremost most interventions around FGM/C in Nigeria has always involved the older generation more than the younger generation. Also, that most interventions have always involved the use of various traditional methods i.e. training workshops, dialogue sessions, sensitization programs etc. Little or nothing was done with regards to using various youth friendly approaches like soccer to ending FGM/C here in Nigeria. SIRP therefore decided to implement this foregoing project for one major reason and that is:
·         To increase the involvement of youth in ending FGM/C in Nigeria:
Since the world has a target to end FGM/C by 2030, there is greater need to more than ever involve more youth in this our shared vision. This is because youth are the ones to end FGM/C by 2030. Sadly enough, most interventions around FGM/C have always been boring, uninteresting and repetitive for most youth in Nigeria. Hence their reluctance to engage in various end FGM/C campaigns here in Nigeria.
To further buttress this point, SIRP conducted a research in Akwuke. The purpose of this study was to determine the level of awareness and involvement amongst youth in Akwuke to issues relating to FGM/C. In this particular study, SIRP adopted a descriptive research design. Specifically 2 research questions were posed to guide the study. A multi-staged sampling procedure using simple random sampling technique of balloting without replacement was used. We selected a sample of 210 youth accessing the only market in the community.
The instrument for data collection was our self-developed questionnaires. The data collected were analyzed using figures and percentages to answer the research questions. Below are some of the questions we asked them and some of the answers we got from them;
·         Question 1: Have you ever heard of FGM/C?
Yes
%
No
%
10
4.76
200
95.2
·         After we explained the meaning of FGM/C to them we then asked them;
·         Question 2: Would you love to see FGM/C ended in your community?
Yes
%
No
%
190
90.47
20
9.52

·         From the foregoing, one can see that only 10 youth out of the 210 youth, we gave out these questionnaires to have heard about FGM/C. Also 190 youth out of the 210 youth, we gave out these questionnaires wanted FGM/C to be ended in their community.

After the foregoing research, SIRP decided to adopt a youth friendly approach that will be both engaging and interesting for these youth and that approach was soccer. SIRP organized a 5 a- side soccer tournament for 6 youth teams from the community. At the end of the tournament, the youth team from Atako community of Akwuke won the tournament and therefore became our end FGM/C champions at the community.
At the end of the tournament, the following results were achieved:
·         There was an increase in the level of awareness amongst youth from the baseline of 15% to 45% at the end of the project.
·         There was an increase in the rate of involvement amongst youth in end FGM/C issues at the community from the baseline of 10% to 50%.
·         A reduction in the FGM/C rate at the community from the baseline of 65% to 45% at the end of the project.
The foregoing figures were derived from the series of interview sessions; we had with various youth from the community at the end of the project. One major lesson learnt from this project was that there is a huge number of youth who genuinely want to be involved in this ongoing activism to end FGM/C by 2030, but are not currently doing so much in this regard. This is largely due to the fact that most NGOs, anti-FGM activists, the Government in Nigeria etc has either failed to see youth as key allies in this our shared vision to end FGM/C by 2030. We therefore call for the use of various youth friendly approaches, which will be both engaging and interesting for youth in ensuring the involvement of youth in various end FGM/C activities.

Monday, July 15, 2019


What we are currently doing to promote the economic empowerment of young women and girls subjected to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Nigeria

The United Nations, at its General Assembly in November 2014, declared 15th July of every year as World Youth Skills Day. To commemorate this day, Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP) and a Youth Economic Empowerment (YEE) platform called Unskilled to Skilled (U2S) will like to talk about what we are currently doing in this area here in Nigeria. This is especially with regards to promoting the economic empowerment of various young women and girls subjected to FGM/C in Nigeria.

Currently in Nigeria, 20 million women and girls are projected to have undergone one form of FGM/C or the other. This has led to not just a great health crisis here in Nigeria, but also a great economic problem for various FGM/C survivours in Nigeria. One might ask how FGM/C affects young women and girls economically. But the answer to this foregoing question is not far-fetched. When young women and girls are mutilated/cut they are married off immediately to various older suitors. This is done because FGM/C serves as a precursor to the girl child early marriage here in Nigeria. After she is married off, she invariably quits school so as to tend for her family. When she quits school, this automatically affects her chances of being gainfully employed in the future. This is one major way in which FGM/C affects young women and girls economically.

In tackling this problem, SIRP recently in conjunction with U2S adopted an innovative approach, which involves not just organizing various skill acquisition trainings for young FGM/C survivours, but also pairing them up with already established businesses here in Nigeria. We define YEE as the process by which youth gain the ability not just to make decisions for themselves, but also for others around them. We strongly believe that the end-result of every YEE program should be the financial independence of every youth.

With the foregoing definition in mind, we are currently working assiduously to ensure that various young women and girls that have been subjected to FGM/C are not just skilled, but are also financially independent here in Nigeria. So far we have used this innovative approach in more than 5 communities here in Nigeria. The result of this has been indeed huge and heart-warming. It definitely feels so great to see the huge impact that this approach is having on various FGM/C survivours here in Nigeria. We are also on course to scale up this approach to reach more communities here in Nigeria. We are not just committed to ending FGM/C in Nigeria, but are also passionate about the economic empowerment of various FGM/C survivours in Nigeria.

Happy World Youth Skills Day to you all!

Monday, June 17, 2019





UTILIZING A U2S MODEL TO PROMOTING WEE AT AKWUKE COMMUNITY OF ENUGU STATE, NIGERIA
Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) is defined as the process by which women gain the ability to make decisions not just for themselves, but also for others around them. We strongly believe that the end result of any WEE should be the financial independence of every woman.  Any WEE program that does not lead to a woman’s financial independence does not cut it for us.
With the foregoing in mind, last week Unskilled to Skilled (U2S) model for economic empowerment was utilized by two Non-Governmental Organizations based here in Nigeria and they include: the Society for the Improvement of Rural People (SIRP) and Growing the Girl Child Initiative (GTGCI). U2S is a Youth Economic Empowerment (YEE) which caters for every unskilled and unemployed youth (ages 18-30) here in Nigeria.
U2S exists to reduce the rate of youth unemployment here in Nigeria, which currently stands at 23.1% and this according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistic (NBS) translates to 16 million youth here in Nigeria. U2S doesn’t just seek to train various youth on various vocational skills, but also to pair them up with already established businesses here in Nigeria at the end of their training. This indeed marks a clear departure from other economic empowerment programs and models here in Nigeria. This is because U2S leads to every youth financial independence.
From the foregoing therefore, we were highly excited and elated when last week we in collaboration with SIRP and GTGCI organized various skill acquisition programs for various young women at Akwuke community of Enugu State, Nigeria. We trained them on how to make liquid soap, insecticides, buns, cakes, peanuts and puff-puff. The trained participants are already being paired up at the moment with various businesses here in Enugu State. This pairing will help them in growing both in skill and also in their earning power. Indeed this program was a huge success.
Our gratitude goes to SIRP and GTGCI who believed in us. Together we will definitely achieve WEE here in Nigeria.

Thursday, May 30, 2019


               HOW FGM/C AFFECTS WOMEN AND GIRLS ECONOMIC GROWTH

Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) is defined as the process by which women gain the ability to make decisions not just for themselves, but also for others around them. Others here could include her immediate family, her friends, community members and the society at large. For a woman to be said to be economically empowered, she must have the ability to meet not just her own financial needs, but also the financial needs of others.

Sadly enough, in so many countries women and girls are not economically empowered. This is indeed sad because there are so many benefits to be gained, when women and girls are economically empowered. One of such benefits is that the family is better off. This is because women are naturally known to be more caring than men. When women are economically empowered, they naturally invest in their families than most men do. Also the society is better off no wonder a popular quote says “Empower a woman Empower a generation”.

Though there are so many reasons why women are not economically empowered, but one major reason which has not yet gained prominence is Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). FGM/C is a practice which affects not just the health of every woman and girl child, but also her economic growth and development. In most climes, FGM/C serves as a precursor to the girl child early marriage. The girl child is mutilated and cut to keep her pure and chaste for any man who intends to marry her. This is majorly because of the misconception and myth that FGM/C generally curbs promiscuity. So an uncut girl is largely not wanted, because she is seen as not pure and chaste in the eyes of many men in the community.

After the girl child is mutilated or cut, then the next thing that the family does is to marry her off at a tender age usually between the ages of 10-16 years. When this happens, the education of such a girl is usually affected. She drops out of school to spend more time with her husband and also to take care of her children. It gets even worse when the husband tells her specifically never to think about going to school anymore. For such a girl that has dreams of maybe becoming a lawyer, doctor an entrepreneur etc she sees all these dreams fade away right before her eyes. This is because nobody would want to employ someone who is not educated.

In conclusion, it’s definitely high time we as end FGM activists and campaigners start looking at this area. This is because the impact that FGM/C has on the economic life of various women and girls is definitely so weighty.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


THE IMPORTANCE OF USING YOUTH FRIENDLY APPROACHES TO ENDING FGM/C

Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) is defined as the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external genitalia of a woman or girl. Globally, FGM/C is practiced in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and even in some parts of Europe. Globally, it is estimated that 200 million girls and women have undergone one form of FGM/C or the other. In Nigeria alone, it is estimated that 20 million women and girls have undergone one form of FGM/C or the other. This therefore represents 10% of the global total.

FGM/C poses serious physical and mental health risks for women and young girls. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) study, FGM/C can be likened to increased complications in childbirth and maternal death. Other side effects include severe pain, hemorrhage, tetanus, infections, infertility, cysts, urinary incontinence, psychological and sexual problems. FGM/C is also a fundamental Human Rights violation as it amounts to torture and also an inhuman practice. FGM/C also serves as a precursor to the girl child early marriage which has an effect on her education and also her chances of being gainfully employed in the future.
While there are so many approaches to ending FGM/C ranging from dialogue sessions, seminars, trainings, workshops, media, rallies, information, education and communication (IEC) campaigns etc. 

Various youth friendly approaches have greatly been neglected by various end FGM/C campaigners, activists, organizations etc. This is indeed shocking because there is a shared belief that youth are the ones to end FGM/C by 2030. If we are to achieve this, it is definitely high time, we start using various youth friendly approaches to increase the involvement of youth in this regard.

From the foregoing therefore, it is high time we start using various youth friendly approaches like sport, games, drama, art; music shows etc to take this end FGM/C message to youth. Youth are known to be energetic, vibrant and therefore need activities to put their energy into. In most of the activities, I have been involved in here in Nigeria; I have come across various youth who have confided in me that all these trainings, seminars were becoming so repetitive and boring to them. That it is high time, we start organizing various youth friendly activities for them. These words really made me to have a re-think and I said to myself that this is indeed one area, we as end FGM/C campaigners and organizations are getting it wrong.

In conclusion, I must not fail to commend some end FGM/C campaigners, organizations who are currently using various youth friendly approaches in their work to end FGM/C. But, a whole lot more are yet to start doing this. It is definitely high time, we start using various youth friendly approaches as a way to increase the involvement of youth in this our shared vision of ending FGM/C in our various communities of interventions. This is because; they are the ones to end FGM/C by 2030.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


                                                   AKAWO SAVINGS
Although there are many ways in which one can save money, but I will like to discuss about one method that has over the years proved very much effective. This is not just for me but to also various small businesses here in Nigeria and that is Akawo savings.
Akawo savings is a system of daily savings operated by not just individuals, but also by organizations like micro finance banks etc. In Akawo savings, first of all it is important that you trust whomever you are entrusting your daily savings with. It is important you put your savings in the hands of credible organizations rather than individuals.
                                                       How it works
1.   You are expected to register with an individual or an organization running an Akawo business usually with a sum of 100 Naira.
2.     You are then given a form by them to fill.
3.   You fill in your details and also attach a passport photograph to the form and return it back to them.
4.    You are then given a card which will be yours for the entire duration of the year or more than in some cases.
5.   You are then asked how much you can be contributing to it on a daily basis. The minimum is usually 100 Naira.
6.      In a case, where you agreed to be contributing 100 Naira. You are therefore expected to be paying this sum on a daily basis throughout the year.
7.     At the end of the year, you can decide to collect back your savings or to still leave it with them.
N.B the owners of the Akawo business take your contribution fee for a day in a month. So in the foregoing case they make 1,200 Naira from you in a year.
This form of savings is particularly useful for both those who are not frugal in their spending and for those who always have money to spare.