NCWS-PAWED ORGANIZES INT’L CONFERENCE, DISCUSSES CONTEMPORARY ISSUES ON WOMEN, CHILDREN
The Partnership for Advancing Women in Economic Development (PAWED) and the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) have organized an international women’s conference were contemporary issues related to women and children were discussed.
The conference which was the first ever Pan-African conference titled ‘African Regional Council of Women Conference’ brings women across the continent together to deliberate on the issues and proffer solutions on the challenges and opportunities of women associations.
During the conference with the theme ‘New awakening for African Women’ a side session was organized by the NCWS with support from the Partnership for Advancing Women in Economic Development (PAWED) project. The panel session was titled “Women Cooperative Associations: Challenges and Opportunities of Women’s Associations in Nigeria”.
The objectives of the panel session are to present an overview of the state of play in Women Associations/Collectives/Cooperatives, explore key challenges Women’s Associations/Collectives/Cooperatives face in Nigeria, share good practices and success stories of Women’s Associations/Collectives/Cooperatives, and identify areas and ideas to promote women’s collective actions to solving women’s economic challenges in Nigeria and Africa as a continent.
At the conference, participants identified establishment of women associations and cooperatives as the cost-effective means of achieving women economic empowerment and therefore, advocate for periodic monitoring of women associations in Nigeria to ensure that they are on the right track.
Talking further on women development, participants expressed the view that, “There should be sensitization and awareness for rural women on the benefit of forming women cooperatives. And also, expressed optimism that, “Continuous financial management training for women cooperatives and association members would enhance the development of both rural and urban women in economic actitivies.”
On the side of the conference, participants engaged in sessions that discussed thematic areas which focuses on three key issues that include the general approach to women associations in Nigeria; Challenges of Women Groups/Associations/Cooperatives in Nigeria; as well as, the Opportunities for Women’s Groups/Associations/Cooperatives in Nigeria.
The panel session consisted of Professor Hauwa Evelyn Yusuf, (Director of the Centre for Gender Studies-Kaduna State University), Dr. Ibe Nwaganga (President, South-East Professional Women’s Association-NCWS), Mrs. Amina Temitope Ajayi (from Silicon Valley), Chief (Mrs.) Oshifeso Iyabo (Chairperson, NCWS Committee on Status of Women), Ambassador Moses Kolawole (HeforShe Ambassador).
The conference reports at the end of the side sessions, thus: “On the first thematic issue, the panellists reflected on what prompted women to come together to form a cooperative or association. The panellists unanimously agreed that women collaborate due to the need to change some of their social economic realities by creating opportunities for self-actualization economically, modify public perception on their status and more importantly improve their overall standard of living. The panelists also agreed that women cooperatives are one of the main institutional machineries for empowering the economically weak members of the society. Women cooperatives are able to promote economic and social development because they are commercial organizations that follow a broader set of values than those associated purely with the profit motive.
“Panelists also discussed the challenges facing women cooperatives in Nigeria. The most overarching point made by the panelists was lack of funding for women cooperatives and associations. The panelists explained that funding women associations is the key to effectively empowering women. Through adequate funding many women will reach their full potential which will not only benefit their households but the society as a whole. Apart from lack of funding, the panelists also cited patriarchy as one major challenge that hinders women from participating in women associations. They noted that while women in the formal sector face little to no resistance from men when joining women’s groups or associations, women in the informal sector are prone to restrictions by men.
“As solution, the panelists agreed that the missing link to achieving women empowerment is through proper coordination of the women associations and cooperatives. The opportunities for forming women associations and cooperatives include financial and economic benefits such as capacity building, financial assistance, and building solidarity networks among others. The panelists further explained that continuity, sustainability and leadership are the driving force that will ensure that women associations and cooperatives continue to serve their purpose and improve the lives of women in Nigeria. They went on to call for training and periodic monitoring and evaluation of women associations in Nigeria.
“The panel session ended on a position that women cooperatives have a role to play in empowering women and in alleviating poverty. As an outcome of the panel’s deliberations, the panellists urge government at all levels to ensure that women cooperatives and associations get financial support. Importantly, the session ended with a recognition of the need to train and monitor these women cooperatives to ensure continuity and sustainability needed for women empowerment,” it concluded.
Participants at the conference expressed the view that an advocacy visit by the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) to the relevant MDAs on the benefit of funding women associations and cooperatives in Nigeria would further boost women’s economic development in Nigeria.