…Targets 54,000 Women
…3,600 WAGs Groups Formed With 11,308 Women Beneficiaries
By Saviour Ekpe
Women in Akwa Ibom State have heaved a sigh of relief as the Udom-led administration has partnered with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the World Bank to relieve them of perennial poverty, penury and suffering.
This assertion was made known to journalists by the state coordinator, Nigeria for Women Project (NFWP) Akwa Ibom State, Barr. (Mrs.) Ofonime Etuknwa during a media parley recently as she extended the appreciation of Akwa Ibom women to the Governor, Udom Emmanuel for releasing counterpart funds for the takeoff of the project in the state said, “the Akwa Ibom women are very grateful to the gender-friendly Governor, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel for empowering them through Nigeria for Women Project”.
The State Coordinator explained that “Nigeria for Women Project (NFWP) is a Project of the Akwa Ibom State Government with assistance from the World Bank. It is a flagship Project of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and implemented by State Ministries of Women Affairs and Social Welfare. The Project Development Objective is to support improved livelihoods of women in targeted areas in Nigeria. It suffices to say that when the livelihood of a woman is improved, it cuts across the entire family. The Project is targeted at women within the age 18 and above who self-select themselves to form Women Affinity Groups (WAGs) as self-help groups to enhance their economic activities and improve livelihoods”.
She noted that Akwa Ibom State is one of the six states of the federation that benefit as a pilot state and the only in the south south zone of the country, added that systematic training on savings, financial education, business skills, gender and life skills, grievance redress mechanism and business plan development with strong method of monitoring and evaluation to avoid abuse as Onna, Ibesikpo Asutan and Oruk Anam local government areas are the pilot phase beneficiaries in the state, “In Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria for Women Project is being implemented in three Local Government Areas (LGAs) as pilot LGAs and a total of 54,000 women spread across the three LGAs will be beneficiaries in the first phase of the project. In the State, a total of 98 Ward Facilitators (WFs) have been engaged and trained on beneficial topics which are to be cascaded to the WAG members in a simplified format. These training included WAG Formation with focus on the principles of working in groups, group governance, conflict management and record keeping. Introduction to Savings and Credit is to help women understand how to manage their funds in regard to improving their livelihoods. The Financial Education training is intended to help the WAG members differentiate income and expenditure and their different elements as important tools to both individuals and entrepreneurs. The Business Skills training emphasises the importance of having diverse businesses, also focuses on challenges business owners face and to appreciate the qualities of a successful business owner”.
A glance at the goals of the project of 1. Creating an enabling environment for women to overcome institutional failures including markets and barriers to enhance productive livelihoods and socioeconomic advancement 2. To carry out a strategic communications campaign (CC) with an overall objective of behavioural change, awareness generation and project information dissemination 3. To support socioeconomic upliftment of women by supporting the advancement of policy dialogue, strengthening technical and implementation capacity and better coordination among implementing partners at the Federal, State and Local Government levels 4. To build social capital by galvanizing women to become members of Women Affinity Groups (WAGs) and strengthening both new and existing WAGs that can serve as institutional platforms for women in Nigeria 5. To provide economically active women in their groups with livelihoods grants as well as skills training to include psycho-emotional entrepreneurship and market responsive technical skills based on sound analysis of the livelihood sectors and market demand 6. To deploy innovations that will transform women’s social and livelihood outcomes, improve project delivery and overall impact on women and 7. indicate that Akwa Ibom is gradually on a fast lane meeting up with it as the committees are working assiduously for the betterment of the women.
The NFWP is a five-year operation of the Federal Government of Nigeria with support from the World Bank to the Nigerian Government’s goal of ensuring gender equality and improving the economic achievements of women using methods that would add to their sources of income and the well-being of individual households and the communities at large. The Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo serves as the chairperson; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs. Margaret Edem as Secretary; and Mrs. Ofonime Etuknwa as state project coordinator among other officials.