From Boko Haram’s assault on education to combating the spread of Ebola, headlines from Nigeria have drawn global attention this year.
From Boko Haram’s assault on education to combating the spread of Ebola, headlines from Nigeria have drawn global attention this year. For Ms. Ngozi Eze, country director for WfWI – Nigeria, these do not tell the full story of the potential or progress women are making in her country.
Nearly 4,000 supporters joined a town-hall conference call with Ms. Eze in November. The focus of the discussion was the issues that affect women enrolled in WfWI programs in rural and local communities in Nigeria.
During the call Ms. Eze shared updates on WfWI – Nigeria’s many recent achievements. She described the programs and partnerships that are creating new opportunities to educate and equip women with tools and resources – from integrating public health directives on Ebola into program trainings, to improving HIV/AIDS education and helping women access bank accounts.
She described powerful examples of women standing up for each other and also reminded supporters of the isolation and poverty that draw women into the program.
“We serve the very marginalized, poor women in the rural communities, the majority of them illiterate. They know that there is a future for their children – their daughters – and that is why they come to our trainings,” Ms. Eze explained. “They know that with these skills and resources that they will be able to progress, as well as their communities.
Following her presentation and the introduction from Vice President of Programs, Julianne Lindsey, supporters were invited to ask questions.
Impact of Sporadic Violence on WfWI Staff Safety
One caller, Katie, from California, asked if the lives of WfWI staff are ever in jeopardy as they carry out the organization’s mission. She explained that stakeholders at all levels work together to keep each other safe in potentially dangerous situations.
“Of course, working in conflict-affected areas, our lives are sometimes in danger,” Ms. Eze explained, “but we do take precautions to ensure that not only the lives of the people visiting, but also the staff on the ground [are] protected. We work with the stakeholders, the police, the traditional rulers, the religious leaders, the women in the program, our staff – so that way, collaboratively, we will be able to ensure each other’s safety.”
Self-Esteem and Standing Up to Domestic Violence
Karen, from Pennsylvania, asked what is done to encourage the women we serve to feel better about themselves and develop greater self-esteem. Ms. Eze shared the story of a participant in the program who was facing domestic violence at the hands of her husband. After her class completed the training unit on women’s rights, they came together to intervene on their classmate’s behalf.
Watch Ngozi response
“One early morning they went to the woman’s house, and surrounded it, and sat down,” Ms. Eze said. “The husband of the woman stepped out and was confronted by 25 women. ‘What is happening here? Why are you people surrounding my house?’ he said.
“And one woman said, ‘Is that the way to greet your visitors? We came to visit you because we learned something is happening. We learned that you have been beating your wife. Don’t you know that it’s a crime to beat your wife? And the man was startled and said that he wasn’t going to do that again.”
The next time the woman came to class, Ms. Eze said, she seemed utterly changed by the action taken by her classmates and friends. “Our program has actually given the women hope and the opportunity to transform for the better.”
“I can’t tell you how proud I am to be a part of this, even a small part,” Barbara, from Texas, commented.
Become a Part of Making It All Possible
The country directors at WfWI play a critical role in managing their teams on the ground as well as sharing lessons learned with each other, global staff, and supporters.
You can learn more about WfWI’s work in Nigeria here. The support of sponsors and donors makes the work WfWI does in eight countries around the world possible. Your monthly gift of $35 will support one of many women around the world through a yearlong training program that gives her skills and resources to move from poverty and isolation to self-sufficiency and empowerment.