Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Opportunity for solidarity with Nigerian WILPF sisters!

Additional is funding needed for an amazing workshop to bring together women activists in the conflict-plagued Niger Delta.

At the International Board meeting last November, I had the great honor of getting to know a wonderful woman named Joy Onyesoh. She is working with a small group of 12 women to, in their words, “bring together women interested in peace, promoting political and economic justice for Nigeria women. We are working for promotion and protection of women’s rights, equal and full participation of Nigerian women in all political, social and economic processes. In our part of the world, being born a woman in today’s world is an immediate disadvantage. Your life is shackled from day one. First of all the joy every one expresses at your arrival is so diluted compared to the ecstasy at the birth of your brother, you are made to believe that you are inferior. We are poised to bring about a change in definition, behavior and engagement of our women. One of our goals is to reach out to young women, particularly those who are less privileged, to create an opportunity for young women to get involved and make empowering choices and bring about change in their communities. These young women will be taught on how not just to live but to thrive and develop their own leadership style.”

Some of the areas they work in include:

 Protecting women’s rights to own and inherit property and land.
Combating harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, widowhood rights, girl child rights, child marriage etc.

 Promoting a culture of zero tolerance to all forms of violence against women, especially in communities that have military presence.

 Eradication of discrimination and violations of women’s human rights through legal and policy reforms.

 Economic empowerment and skill-building programs.

 Leadership development programs for young women in communities to give them more access to decision-making.

 Providing information on HIV/AIDS issues in order to make young women more visible, better resourced and more effective in advocating and leading the fight against HIV/AIDS.

 Promoting understanding of international disarmament efforts and how they affect us locally and as women.

The group has organized two workshops in the past, one concerning “Women in Business” and routes to financial independence on the 19th of March 2008, and one on the 6th of November 2008 in collaboration with the Nigerian Medical Women Association on Cervical Cancer. The group also has a program in two higher education institutions in the east where they bring women engaged in active politics as guest speakers to mentor the younger women.

They are currently organizing a workshop for the 28th of April. The theme of the workshop is “Women working for Peace,” and its main goals are to create more awareness of the problem faced by the Niger Delta area with specific reference to violence against women by the military, and chart the way forward; to advocate for sustainable economic and social development of the area; to campaign against environmental degradation of the Niger Delta by the multinational oil companies; to recognize women who are noted to have contributed significantly towards peace in the Niger Delta area; and most importantly to advance women's participation in conflict prevention and peace building.

WILPF UK was able to secure about half of the necessary budget, but they still need the equivalent of $555 USD to be able to put on this amazing workshop. If you can help, or know a person or organization who may be interested in contributing, please contact me (Robin) at thewildwords@yahoo.com, and I’ll put you in touch with Joy.

Here is what I have in terms of details. Joy would be happy to speak to anyone wanting to know more.

Women working for Peace workshop:

We will bring in women activists currently working in the Niger-Delta region to make presentations, and an environmental consultant will also talk specifically on the environmental degradation of the Niger-Delta and the way forward, the Oil drilling Multinationals will also be extended an invitation and given an opportunity to make responses.

There will be a paper on Peace and conflict resolution with special emphasis on women as agents of peace.

To ensure that the workshop will be a success and of immense benefit to participants, we are networking with other women’s groups and organizations, who would also assist in spreading the information on the forthcoming workshop. There will also be flyers, posters and insertion of the information in some women’s weekly magazines.

Since we already have a program running in two higher institutions, we would use the young women to spread the message to their peers in other higher institutions.

We also have relationships with rotary and rotaract clubs, and we have found them useful in the past as a means of creating awareness for our programs as they enjoy a wide range of membership.

We intend to circulate resolutions emanating from the workshop to various women's organizations and groups, State and National ministry of Women's Affairs and the Federal Government. After the workshop there will be follow-up meetings to discuss replies from the resolution sent out and other matters arising from the workshop.

We are applying for funding to make our project a reality. This is the first time such a workshop will be held in Nigeria. We are still a growing group and do not have the financial capacity to carry out such a project. Our budget for the workshop is:

210 Hall and public address system
70 Printing of information leaflets and flyers
50 Printing of posters and banners
85 Hiring of video and photographer
55 Hiring of Projector
160 Printing 200 pcs workshop big envelope bag, printing and photocopying workshop papers, program and tags
70 Logistics (hiring of bus, generator,gas, internet cost etc.)
345 Tea break and lunch for 200 people
140 Cost of circulating resolution: Meeting after workshop to finalize resolution, printing, photocopying and mailing of resolutions, telephone calls and travel costs.

1,185 TOTAL