Exclusion remains one of the underlying factors preventing the development of women in communities across Nigeria. In Ndeabor community of Aniri local government area and Igogoro community of Enugu-Ezike Igbo-eze North local government area, of Enugu State, women have long been on the receiving end of societal exclusion and inequalities. Faced with cultural barriers and socialized to be in the background, women have never been part of the core community decision-making processes. Final decisions, including those affecting women, are subject to the decisions of the men represented in the Council of Chiefs.
Following an advocacy training by the USAID Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project, Women Empowerment Education and Peace-Building Initiative (WEPBI) used the skills gained to collaborate with community women leaders and successfully engaged the men and the council of chiefs on the need to include women in the community decision-making process. The group effectively mapped the issues for advocacy, identified the right gatekeepers to be engaged, and developed strategies for engagement. As a result of their engagements, for the first time in the history of Ndeabor community, 14 women are now part of the Council of Chiefs, while Igogoro has honored 4 women with traditional titles as major decision-makers on community affairs. These two milestones mark a huge step in combating issues of exclusion and inequalities across communities in Nigeria
According to the founder of WEPBI, Ogwadinma Ijeoma Joy, “This is a major win and milestone for the work we do and applying the tools from the SCALE training helped us achieve these wins faster. These achievements have boosted the morale of the community women and increased trust and credibility of the Council of Chiefs in the community women.”
The SCALE project is committed to working with organizations and individuals to promote equality and inclusion in Nigeria. The project is a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded five-year project designed to strengthen the financial, management, and advocacy capacity of CSOs in Nigeria to create a more accountable, transparent, peaceful, and democratic Nigeria with more effective and efficient public service delivery.