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Restoring Hope, One Woman at a Time

Afiya Nenyitmwa Micah and Ruth Tongman Ramnap have been Social Empowerment Trainers in Nigeria for over six years. This is what they’ve seen.

We often say that with a little support – and a lot of solidarity – women have the power to transform their world. But there is no one better to testify to that transformation than our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations trainers, who accompany the women in our program day after day along their journeys of self-empowerment.

teacher in classroom
Afiya during classes. Credit: WfWI

Afiya herself is a powerful woman. With a strong voice and unwavering gaze, it’s not hard to see how women survivors of war who sit through her social empowerment class come out with new confidence to take steps towards building their futures. Afiya has been a trainer in Nigeria for six years and has witnessed the transformation many times over.

Women in the program, she says, have often experienced drastic upheaval over a very short period of time, and many are still reeling when they begin the training, devastated and consumed by the loss of loved ones and livelihoods. “These women come looking small, disappointed... She might not even be able to contribute to the class, but along the way you see her build that confidence because she now knows her value and her worth.”

One of the first things Afiya does in her class is help women understand the value of their contributions to the family and society.

“Over time, you see these women appreciating the little things they do that bring changes to their lives, families and even the community.”

program participants in classroom
Program participants during class. Credit: WfWI

From raising children and maintaining the household to performing other caring duties within the community, with the guidance of trainers like Afiya women learn that the little things they do are not so little at all.

This realization enables their powers to grow tenfold as they begin to channel them intentionally. They become advocates and leaders, claiming their rights and using their voices for change.

“You see these women becoming decision-makers, participating in civic rights and giving their own advice where it’s necessary for the growth of the community.”

The gifts of their empowerment ripple out far and wide, both generationally, as women ensure that their own children are educated, and in their domestic partnerships, as they negotiate with their spouses on things like reproductive health and their voice within the household. They learn how to manage conflicts and form networks of mutual support and encouragement with other women. When bonded in solidarity, they become unstoppable.

teacher during empowerment class
Ruth during economic empowerment class. Credit: WfWI

Ruth, another Social Empowerment Trainer in Nigeria, echoes the unparalleled power of a woman knowing her rights – and the damage done when she doesn’t. “When they first come to class, many don’t know where to go when their rights are being violated, because they don’t even know that their rights are being violated.”

“After the changes in their perception, you begin to see them taking proactive steps. They are able to question those norms and practices that infringe on their rights as women, you know, they can assert themselves.” This, she says, is a game-changer.

For Afiya, at the core of their transformation is hope.

“Women come with a mindset of anger, [lost in] whatever it is that has happened to them. But the program brings hope to them and gives them this sense of belonging. To know that there is hope even after all is lost.”

“This gives you joy as a trainer,” she concludes, smiling.

She knows better than anyone that when hope is restored, anything is possible.

trainers in Nigeria
Afiya and Ruth. Credit: WfWI
program participant Afghanistan
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