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GENDER BASED VIOLENCE

GENDER BASED VIOLENCE

GENDER BASED VIOLENCE PROGRAM WITH DR JANE

VIOLENCE: The use of physical force that harms a person or a person’s property.

Injury especially to something that deserves respect or reverence.

Improper or damaging attention.

Swift and intense force.

Rough or injurious physical force, action or treatment.

Rough or immoderate vehemence, as of feeling, expression or language etc.

Violence against women includes threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Violence against women can occur in private (such as in the home) or in public settings (including places of work and educational institutions).

As domestic violence awareness has increased, it has become evident that abuse can occur within a number of relationships. The laws in many states cover incidents of violence occurring between married couples. In many African countries, Gender Violence is the order of the day. More than two-thirds of women in Africa are believed to have experienced one form of violence or another. These come in the forms of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological harm traceable to the family, workplace or community. On a daily basis, women and girls are tortured, beaten, battered, punished, harassed, raped and maimed in one way or the other. These include acid attacks, female genital mutilation, sexual slavery, forced impregnation, harmful traditional practices or worst still murder.

Types of Gender Violence:

Physical violence:  Beating, Acid, Weapon, hard labour, Female genital mutilation etc.

Sexual violence: Rape by father, brother, boss, teacher, relatives, fellow students, colleagues,

Using sharp objects on breast or buttocks

Forcing the woman to perform sexual acts that are against her wish.

Forcing a woman to sleep with a friend or brother.

Psychological Violence:

Unbearable words like harlot, foolish woman, good for nothing, ass hole, etc.

Intimidation from male Boss, teachers, spouse etc

Talking to the woman in a way that she feels she is dirty and not needed in the community.

Constantly reminding her of her childlessness or not being educated.

Withholding a woman from having friends.

Not allowing a woman to have a job.

Using the children or girl friends against the woman of the house.

Not giving the woman feeding money.

In a relationship, the man may use a number of tactics other than physical violence in other to maintain power and control over his partner.

Emotional: Denial of love, care, rejection, constant condemnation etc Many say that the emotional abuse they have suffered has left deepest scars.

Isolation: it is common for an man to be extremely jealous, and insist that the woman do not visit her friends or family members. the resulting feeling of isolation may then be increased for the victim if she loses her job as a result of absenteeism or decreased productivity (which is often associated with people  who are experiencing domestic violence).

Community violence: High bride price, Taboo on certain food.

Threats and Intimidation: threats – including threats of violence, suicide, or of taking away the children – are a very common tactic employed by the men. The existence of emotional and verbal abuse, attempts to isolate, and threats and intimidation within a relationship may be an indication that physical abuse is to follow. Even if they are not accompanied by physical abuse, the effect of these incidents leaves very much to be desired.

Gender violence occur throughout our life cycle

Prenatal phase: Battering during pregnancy (emotional and physical effects on the woman, effects on birth); coerced pregnancy; (rape during war, deprivation of food and liquids; prenatal sex-selection.

Infancy: Female infanticide; emotional and physical abuse; differential access to food and medical care for girl infants

Childhood: Child marriage; genital mutilation; sexual abuse by family members and strangers; differential access to food and medical care; education, child prostitution.

Adolescence: Rape/sexual assault; forced prostitution /trafficking in women; courtship violence; economically coerced sex; sexual abuse in the workplace, forced abortion.

Reproduction age: Abuse of women by intimate partners; marital rape; dowry abuse and murders; psychological abuse; sexual abuse in the workplace; sexual harassment; rape; abuse of women with disabilities.

Old age: Abuse and exploitation of widows.

Myths about Family Violence:  Family Violence is common:

Although statistics on family violence are not precise, it’s clear that millions of children and women are abused physically by Family members and other intimates. It is not visible since it happens behind closed doors.

Myth: Family violence is confined to the lower classes.

Reports from police records, victim services, and academic studies show that domestic violence exists equally in every socioeconomic group, regardless of race or culture.

Myth: Alcohol and drug abuse are some of the causes of violence in the home

Because many male who beat their wives also abuse alcohol and other drugs, it’s easy to conclude that these substances may cause domestic violence. They apparently do increase the lethality of the violence, but they also offer the excuse to evade responsibility for his behaviour. Domestic violence and substance abuse are two different problems that should be treated separately.

Myth: Battered wives fate:  The most common response to battering – “Why doesn’t she just leave? Ignores economic and social realities facing many women. Shelters are often full and family, friends, and the workplace are frequently less than fully supportive. Faced with rent and utility deposits, day care, health insurance, and other basic expenses, the woman may feel that she cannot support herself and her children. Moreover, in some instances, the woman may be increasing the chance of physical harm or even death if she leaves an abusive spouse.

HEALTH CONSEQUENCES:

High blood pressure as a result of depression

Unwanted pregnancy, no access to health care and information.

Unsafe abortion and possible injury sustained.

Sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

Psychological problems.

And other health complicated issue.

What can each of us do?

Speak out publicly against gender violence.

Take action personally against gender violence when a neighbour, a co-worker, a friend, or a family member is involved or being abused and make referral for immediate action ie: MWASD, Women lawyers, Gender Focused NGOs.

Advocate towards changing harmful traditional/cultural practices.

Encourage your neighbourhood watch or block association to become as concerned with watching out for domestic violence as with burglaries and other crimes.

Reach out to support someone whom you believe is a victim of gender violence and /or talk with a person you believe is being abusive.

Help others become informed, by inviting speakers to your church, professional organization, civic groups, or workplace.

Support gender violence counselling programmes and shelters

People’s Role in the Community:

Neighbours must intervene when they hear violent fights in their neighbourhoods. Don’t turn up the radio or CD to block out the sounds of the drunken argument next door, call other people for help.

Teachers should be alert to signs that students have witnessed violence at home. Children who grow up in violent homes are more likely to become violent themselves.

Medical professionals who see the victims of violence need to ask them about these crimes. Too often doctors or emergency room personnel accept the statement of fearful victims that their bruises or cuts are as a result of household accidents or falls. When a woman with a black eye says that she fell and hit the doorknob, doctors and nurses must ask: “Did someone hit you?

Members of the clergy, policy makers, parents and young boys need to become more involved as well. We just can’t tell a battered spouse to “go home and make it work,” as was done in the past. Sending a woman back to a battering husband often places her life at risk. Of course, we can’t tell a woman who lives in a violent relationship what to do, but we can make a greater effort to let her know that other options are available for her and her children.  tell a battered spouse to “go home and make it work,” as was done in the past. Sending a woman back to a battering husband often places her life at risk. Of course, we can’t tell a woman who lives in a violent relationship what to do, but we can make a greater effort to let her know that other options are available for her and her children. Early intervention is crucial.

 

POVERTY AND RURAL LIVELIHOODS IN NIGERIA

 POVERTY AND RURAL LIVELIHOODS IN NIGERIA

Background Information

          The Global socio-economic indicators published periodically have consistently classified Nigeria among the poorest nations, despite the orchestrated position of the country among the oil rich OPEC nations. All the sub sectors of the economy fall below the internationally acceptable standard. These include the revenue per capital, budget for health and education, provision of portable water, housing, food and nutrition, literacy level, unemployment,  proportion of the different cadres of health professionals to the population, and other infrastructure and welfare packages. There is high infant and   maternal mortality rate.

Poverty Situation in the Rural Communities   

          The year 2006 national census figures, rate Nigeria, with its 141 million populations as the world’s most populous black nation. Over 60% of Nigerians live in the rural communities. The population explosion with annual growth rate of 3%, overstretches the already poor and inadequate infrastructure and economy.

Data Indicators

Record keeping and data generation and publishing is almost non existent and that published even nationwide is an underestimation and unreliable because the people depend traditionally on oral information. The people are just trying to learn the usefulness of data, its production, collection, compilation and publishing. The required materials and the necessary manpower lack. Consequently it is not useful at this stage to ask for written indicators so as to justify the extent of poverty. Just  a sojourn among the rural communities would unveil the miserable situation, by far worse than the regrettable living conditions in the urban cities of Nigeria.

Means of livelihood

The inhabitants of the rural communities are peasant farmers, engaging in strenuous labour to produce crops for domestic consumption. The produce are also sold in local market so as to be able to buy some other needed items, food and materials.

The astronomical population rise has caused the reduction of the quantity of available farm lands which are over cultivated with the consequent reduction of yields. Fertilizers from the government are within reach of the urban rich who in turn inflate the prices which the rural poor could hardly afford.

Traditional crafts such as weaving with cotton wool, raffia palm trees, bed building from palm tree bamboos, brooms, basket making, carved furniture, different kinds of mats  for roofing, ceiling of houses, musical  instruments such as wooden  gongs, xylophone, drums and many others are fast reducing its importance because modern industries and

technologies of the urban areas have introduced the models which are refined, attractive and massively produced.

Consequently, revenue from these traditional crafts are poor and discouraging.

–        Blacksmiths traditionally produce farming implements and hunting weapons. But these too are being replaced with modern technologies from the industrialized world.

–        Deforestation and ecological changes have further rendered scarce the number and species of bush animals. Hunters can no longer count on this profession for survival.

–        Different types of edibles such as oranges, pawpaw, mangoes, coconuts, bananas and plantains are now purchased in bulk by the urban rich, thus rendering these beneficial food scarce in the rural areas. The peasants prefer selling them so as to generate money for school fees, clothes and for some other household needs. The food values are missed to increase the malnutrition and anemia in the rural areas.

Seasonally, nature provides abundant varieties of foods  such as mushroom, snails, different kinds of vegetable leaves and many others to the rural communities. Unfortunately again these are little consumed and sold off to the scrambling and exploiting urban traders.

–        Excess foods such as maize, melon, are wasted as processing and preservation are not possible.

The use of children prematurely to sustain the economic life of the family: such as  street hawking, child labour

Extramarital sex for money from the rich, professional commercial sex trading  stealing, extortion and bribery.

–        Petit trading with inadequate capital and in times of competing economic needs, the whole capital can be consumed, leading the family to worse hardship.

–        Traditional savings and loans system, whereby members make certain saving contributions weekly, borrowing is allowed  with attached interest. Individual houses may be used as banks and with the danger of loss to thieves and natural disaster. The modern banking system is yet to have influence over the rural population, who moreover have no easy access to the banks.

–        Production and sale of palm produce such as oil and kernels, cassava production and garri processing are additional sources of revenue to the rural people.

–        Payed local labour is also provided by the parents and young adults. The services include, bush clearing, crop cultivation, house building, fetching of water, etc.

–        Some people also survive through medical practices as herbalist, traditional birth attendants and fortune tellers. If the costs are not affordable, the client might mortgage part of his farmland which sometimes is finally lost to the health care provider.

Medical quacks, however, abound in the rural communities and their practices have often leaded to disabilities or even loss of lives. What is most pathetic is that the culprits disappear with impunity.

The ignorant poor inhabitants often fall victim to crooks and deceivers.

Nevertheless, these alternative services are resorted to, especially, if there is no money to access the proper health institutions.

–        Rural roads are generally poorly maintained and inadequate to provide access to the urban areas to export the produce from the rural inhabitants. Transport means are few and expensive.

Television and radio set are owned by a few while most areas lack electricity. All these limits access to information and communication through electronic media. Newspapers are also scarce even though a handful of people could read them.

Health Services  

Health facilities are inadequate in number and types

Secondary (government hospitals), clinics, maternity,  medical laboratory, pharmacies eye and dental clinics  etc in all the 744 Local Governments in the country. The distribution of these facilities are also uneven while health staff are grossly inadequate for the different cadres. Consequently, there is problem of availability and accessibility of health services. For instance, for the 27 LGAS in Imo state, there are 19 general hospitals which are

moreover poorly equipped and understaffed. The cost of Medicare and transportation to distant centers worsen the accessibility.

The general inadequate and poor infrastructure results in high endemicity of diseases: malaria, communicable diseases and parasitic diseases, high infant and maternal mortality rates.  Life expectancy is 50 to 55 years.

Nigeria has the world’s fourth large tuberculosis burden while the control of HIV/AIDS upsurge is a big task. The rural communities are helpless as national HIV control is yet to reach them.  Ignorance, adherence to harmful culture and poverty make the rural communities most vulnerable.  UNICEF is co-sponsoring the campaign against the six childhood killer communicable diseases but success is further reduced by opposing religious beliefs of anti-drug use, wrong notions that the immunization cause the illness or lead to sterility. There is also the wrong  cultural belief that tuberculosis, leprosy  and other diseases are punishment from the gods and therefore incurable while Tuberculosis, in particular is also a poison introduced into  foods and drinks by the enemy. For these reasons, correct medical treatments are ignored.

Unhealthy cultural approach to food and nutrition result in the avoidance of beneficial foods such as eggs and cow meat by pregnant women; fruits, vegetable leaves and  milk during the immediate postpartum or post operation with adverse health consequences  of under nutrition and slow healing of wounds.

Sanitation

In the rural communities, there are few pit latrines while the generality of adults and older children defecate in the open farms and forests and the little children pollute the compounds. Faeco-oral transmission  of intestinal worms abound therefore,  as people march barefooted  on the worm –infested excreta or the soil, the pollution of which is further spread by the flood water.

The polluted soil is also hand manipulated during sweeping, playing, crop harvesting and the improperly or unwashed hands are used to eat food.

The poor rural inhabitants are remarkably victims of skin diseases, especially among children as soap might be lacking, water for bathing or washing the clothes lacking or inadequate.

In some rural communities, much remarked in Ebonyi State Nassarawa, Benue, Kano and many other areas of Nigeria, disuse of schistosomiasis – polluted stagnant water is opposed culturally despite the sinking of bore holes for wholesome water by donor Agencies. These are some of the evils of ignorance, low level of literacy and erroneous cultural beliefs; which abound mostly in rural communities.

The need for birth control is ignored while the available land for cultivation and manuring with domestic wastes continue to be scarce because of population increase, disposal of the ever increasing solid wastes pose serious threat to life. The dumps provide breeding sites for rodents, snakes or  collection of water for breeding mosquitoes here and there, these dumps by the way sides are unsightly, cause obstruction and may also cause physical injuries.

Schools and Education in the Rural Communities

“Free – education” is often a political talk which is not holistically practiced in most states.  There are many school drop outs as parents cannot afford the cost of school fees and books. The learning environment such as lack of ceiling, windows,, broken building floors and leaking roofs  does not encourage  the pupils who often start playing truancy, abandon the school or end up in poor academic results. Some of these children are engaged in forced labour as house helps with attendant exploitations and the risky street hawking.

Most children captured from merchants of child trafficking and prostitutes come from this class of rural children. Note worthily, inhabitants of rural communities have little opportunities for costly and qualitative education.

The causes and consequences of poverty in the rural communities are numerous and diverse.

Social Life

This is much limited to the traditional structure of the family, age grade and church meetings, folk stories at the end the days toils children play different types of traditional indoor games- and football .

It seems, however that the real social relaxation of couples is frequent sex and the production of many children, now difficult to nourish, clothe and generally cared for.

Traditional festivals are periodic and are occasions for meeting of friends, in-laws and family members to make merry and to thank God for blessings. Poverty alleviation slogan by the government is only heard but not seen or felt practically in most rural areas. The local government authorities show no interest in the development of the rural communities. No social amenities but multiple taxation for services not provided.

Food and Nutrition 

Nutritional education is limited. Traditional attitude to food preparation and food imbalance remain endemic. Essential food components are ignored and nutritional deficiencies   are rampant. The population increase in families render the available food inadequate in type quality and quantity. The family income cannot afford better diet.

Domestic animals are kept, not used for food but sold.  Fruits are minimally eaten and the greater part sold to other users.

Insecurity

There is the compounding problem of illiteracy and lack of awareness of legal rights, a condition which is often exploited to further victimize the inhabitants of the rural communities.

The rural areas are increasingly becoming  the hiding places of criminals, who rob, rape, injure and sometimes kill their defenseless victims.

Families are attacked by a large number of robbers who are armed with sophisticated weapons, such that neighbors become afraid to intervene, Government Law enforcement agents are scarce in the rural communities.

The inhabitants form security associations and members, in turn keep night watch and sometimes under the rain and risk of being attacked by the robbers.

In summary, from whichever perspective, the rural communities in Nigeria demonstrate poverty, deprivations and misery. Most of the problems are preventable and the general socio-economic situation can be improved. It would be recommended that interested rural development agencies should arm at addressing these issues.

There should be community sensitization / awareness creation, participation in the planning and implementation in order to promote ownership and sustainability of development projects in the communities.

 

 

HIV&AIDS COMMUNITY OUTREACH EDUCATION

DR JANE PRESENTING PAPER AT RATN HIV PROGRAM IN KENYA

DR JANE PRESENTING PAPER AT RATN HIV PROGRAM IN KENYA

HIV AND CULTURE: The challenges associated with HIV&AIDS have proven to be especially difficult because they differ from culture to culture. The ways in which the pandemic is regarded as well as the ways in which responses are conceived and implemented are intimately linked to factors such as traditional practices, gender issues and beliefs.

The conception in developed countries is different from what we experience in developing countries and it also varies among the developing countries.

Given the wide range of dynamics which culture may include, designing culturally appropriate programs for HIV&AIDS education can be extremely challenging.

HIV IN RURAL COMMUNITIES:  AIDS epidemic constitute family and community crisis as well as state and national, that impacts on economic and social development. It is very clear that people living with the virus live within the rural communities and homes and therefore if the fight to prevent infection and support treatment and care were not embraced by the rural communities then efforts in that direction will not attain major success.

There is the struggle to mobilize communities to take ownership of the efforts to provide and support treatment, care and support for the infected persons and also for those affected by the virus.

RURAL COMMUNITY OUTREACH:  Community mobilization and participation therefore becomes a major approach to HIV&AIDS prevention, care and control.

This involves bringing together all necessary stakeholders with a view to sensitizing/educating them so that they too can be informed and equipped with relevant information that can lead to prevention, care and support.

The resultant effect would be reduction in Stigma and Discrimination; which are the twin chief drivers of HIV&AIDS virus.

RURAL COMMUNITY APPROACH: Advocacy to Stakeholders: Traditional rulers, Community leaders/ Town union executives, Church leaders, community health care providers, Women, Men and Youth leaders etc. Once these people are convinced, they will in turn assist in convincing their people because they have voice among their people. On the other hand, if you fail to convince these stakeholders, they will definitely work against the whole process.

Sensitization or Capacity Building: This involves updating the knowledge base of the community stakeholders especially training of trainers who will in turn assist in training the larger communities.

Community Outreach Education: Sensitization of the larger community with the assistance of the TOTs. At the end, the TOTs will be there to attend to issues that may come up later when the visiting trainers had gone. .

Referral Linkages: This involves giving the community members information on where and how to refer people for services. The referral points may be to health facilities near to the people, community health care providers, and other health care providers like NGOs, FBOs, CBOs and counseling sites. This is done so that people can refer and be referred to & from such facilities.

STAKEHOLDERS COMMITTMENTS:  Ownership and leadership of the AIDS response at family, community and local government level.

Equity of services and resource provision to those in greatest need based on evidence and uphold human rights.

Fight all forms of stigma and discrimination through addressing cultural and social prejudices.

Provide voluntary information to feed into the state M&E framework to track, monitor and evaluate the AIDS response.

Active involvement of people living with HIV&AIDS in planning, execution, coordination and monitoring of HIV&AIDS response at the community level.

Work in a result-focused, non-ideological way, respect, inclusiveness and openness, not only within the prevention context of Abstinence, Be faithful and Condoms (ABC) approach but also beyond.

BENEFITS OF EFFECTIVE RURAL COMMUNITY EDUCATION:  There was a report sometime ago that immunization for polio eradication failed in some parts of Northern Nigeria because the community leader informed his subjects that the polio immunization was a strategy to reduce their population.

It was observed that the stakeholders were not properly advocated with and as such not properly informed about the genuineness and importance of the vaccine.

Whatever success stories that had been recorded in the fight against HIV have a trace to rural community mobilization. On the other hand, most of the failures also experienced could be traced to the simple fact that the community mobilization approach was not properly carried out. Rural community mobilization leads to behavior change while behavior change leads to adherence, attacking the problem from the root, which will in turn yield optimal results.

 

GENDER MAINSTREAMING

DR JANE TALKING TO COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS ON GENDER ISSUES

DR JANE TALKING TO COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS ON GENDER ISSUES

Gender” refers to the socially constructed rather than biologically determined roles of men & women as well as relationships between them in a given society at a specific time & place. “Gender mainstreaming” was defined by the United Nations Economic & Social Council in 1997 as a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns & experiences an integral dimension of design, implementation, monitoring & evaluation of the policies & programs in all political, economic& societal spheres so that women & men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated.

Gender mainstreaming is important because inequalities in the access to development resources and opportunities hamper economic efficiency and sustainability. Women and men have different roles, rights and responsibilities. Rural women often have less access to productive natural resources and opportunities such as education and training, credit, capital, land and decision-making authority.

Gender mainstreaming requires a planning process that promotes the well-being and empowerment of both women and men. Gender should be mainstreamed at the earliest possible point in the project or programme cycle, as it can fundamentally affect the entire project/programme concept and structure. It is not a one-time exercise during the project or programme planning phase, rather an integral part of the entire planning and implementation process and continues throughout the life of the project or programme

The utilization of gender-sensitive indicators allows for effective monitoring and evaluation of project or programme activities, which in turn will feed into more effective future planning and programme delivery

Indicators are quantitative or qualitative benchmarks used for measuring or assessing the achievement of objectives or results. Indicators can assume the form of measurement, numbers, facts, opinions, or perceptions that illustrate a specific condition or situation measuring changes in that situation or condition over time.

Indicators measure the level of performance and can be described in terms of (1) The derived quality to be reached; (2) The quantity of something to be achieved; (3) The target group who is affected by or benefits from the programme or project; and (4) The time frame envisaged for the achievement of the objectives.

There are various types of indicators, including:

Input indicators – describe what goes into the programme or project, such as the number of hours of training, the amount of money spent, the quantity of information material distributed etc.

Output indicators – describe the programme or project activities, such as the number of people trained, the number of policy makers at the briefing, the number of rural women and men reached etc.

Impact indicators – describe the actual change in conditions, such as changed attitudes as a result of training, changed practices as a result of a programme or project activity etc. These types of indicators are more difficult to measure.

Gender-sensitive indicators are indicators disaggregated by sex, age and socio-economic background. They are designed to demonstrate changes in relations between women and men in a given society over a period of time. The indicators are a tool to assess the progress of a particular development intervention towards achieving gender equality. Sex-disaggregated data demonstrates whether both rural women and men are included in the programme or project as agents/project staff, and as beneficiaries at all levels. The approach allows for effective monitoring and evaluation.

Examples of gender-sensitive indicators are:

Quantitative:

Participation of all stakeholders in project identification and design meetings (attendance and level of participation/contribution by sex, age, and socio-economic background).

Degree of rural women and men’s inputs into project activities, in terms of labour, tools, money, etc.

Benefits (e.g. increased employment, crop yields, etc.) going to women and men, by socio-economic background and age.

Qualitative:

Level of participation as perceived by stakeholders through the different stages of the project cycle (by sex, age, and socio-economic background).

Degree of participation of an adequate number of women in important decision making (adequacy to be mutually agreed by all stakeholders) – to be measured through stakeholder responses and by qualitative analysis of the impact of different decisions.

This section examines a number of key areas for gender-sensitive indicators at the National level

Population composition and change

Human settlements and geographical distribution

Households and families, marital status, fertility

Learning in formal and non-formal education

Health, health services, nutrition

Economic activity and labor force participation

Access to land, equipment and credit

Legal rights and political power

Violence against women

Macroeconomic policy and gender

These areas cover some of the most important indicators to be collected at the national level. They have been identified as international priorities in UN recommendations (UN 1995a; 1990; 1989; UNDP, 1995) and the Beijing Platform for Action (1995). The material in this section also draws from CIDA (1996a) and Commonwealth Secretariat (1996). UN (1990a) also provides listings of indicators under each of these classifications.

Removing Barriers for an Inclusive and Accessible Society for All

ED RECEIVES AWARD ON WORLD DISABILITY DAY 2012

DR JANE RECEIVED 2012 AWARD OF PERFORMANCE FROM DISABLED COMMUNITY

IMO STATE NUJ CHAIRMAN CONGRATULATING DR JANE

IMO STATE NIGERIA UNION OF JOURNALIST CHAIRMAN CONGRATULATING HER

Barrier is a structure, such as a fence, built to bar passage. Something immaterial that obstructs or impedes: Intolerance is barrier to understanding. It is those things that stop the smooth movement or flow of something or someone. Whenever there is a barrier, one cannot get to a desired end easily and as at when due. “Mind the Gaps”, this is an inscription at the entrance of a London train that goes underground. The inscription could be used to illustrate the gap (barrier) that often divides humans – the physically challenged and others.  A divide that can be bridged by a conscious dialogue and reasonable approach.

Inclusive is taking a great deal or everything within its scope; comprehensive, including the specified extremes or limits as well as the area.

Accessible: Easily obtained:  easy to talk to or get along with:   accessible society is an ideal society.

society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical and cultural background.

Some Policy and Legal Context for inclusiveness in Nigeria –

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (CFRN1999) provides as follows:

Section 14(2)(b): ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”

Subsection c: ‘the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this constitution’

Section 16 (2)(a) : the state shall direct its policies towards the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development’

Subsection b: ‘that the material resources of our nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good

Subsection c : ‘that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or means of production …in the hands of a few individuals or of a particular group.

Section 17: ‘the state social order is founded on ideals of freedom, equality and justice’

Section 17(1)(a): ‘every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law’

Section 13: ‘It shall be the authority of all organs of government and of all authorities and persons exercising executive, legislative or judicial powers to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this chapter of the Constitution’

Talking about barriers and inequality between individuals has been a consistent feature in our daily discourse. Measures that specifically target the disabled persons have been emphasized for a long time now. If we go by way of evaluating the few successes recorded in this area, it will become very clear that these people have been isolated and their development has not been affected as should be to a desirable degree.

The above has its focus and determination on formal distribution of Power and Common Wealth in the Society. HE WHO WEARS THE SHOE KNOWS WHERE IT PINCHES. How many persons with disability are occupying vital positions from national to state and local government levels? Is there a national commission or ministry for persons with disability manned by a disabled person at least to contribute to national or state discourse on their behalf? What of our environmental challenges, what has been done to accommodate the feelings of persons with disability? Can they climb stair cases of high rising buildings as able-bodied persons? Can they easily get into banking halls through security doors, what of offices in high rise buildings what provision is made for them to enter such places etc? What of boarding vehicles and other means of transportation? What arrangements have been put in place to take care of them?

There is the growing awareness of the importance of shifting the focus from the symptoms of this inequality towards efforts to address the factors that cause them; by this we may turn the barriers into stepping stones and then create an all-inclusive and accessible society for all.

These may include but not limited to the following approaches:-

–       There should be a ministry or commission for persons with disability to be manned by a person with disability. This will make an ample opportunity for him or her to contribute to federal or state executive council issues concerning them.

–       A percentage of both elective and appointive position should be allocated to persons with disability. This will usher them into the Senate and House of Representative etc where national issues are debated. Let them join in making laws that govern them.

–       There should be domesticated provision where high rising buildings, banks etc have provisions for these persons. This should as a matter of priority be enacted to reduce or stop the suffering these people pass through in places like this.

–       The National Council for Women Affairs and Social Development has called for: – All inclusive National Social Welfare Policy, to take care of developmental needs of persons with disability.

It is not all about passing bills, but domesticating it, there are lots of abilities in these persons with disabilities as such; they should be given the enabling environment and opportunity to contribute to national development via Participation, Partnership and Empowerment. These will surely head to overall Poverty Reduction among all, make for Equality, positive change and facilitate the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In the same vein, we would have resolved the conflicts always observed among these persons and would have built lasting Peace for our Society.

Now is the time to turn inward, first – for the solutions to our most confounding issues. The leader that you seek is you! Armed with the proper attitude and purpose, you can regain your Confidence, restore your Dignity, claim your Destiny, and reshape the world – but only if we Believe!  We can use every personal and professional challenge in this life as a stepping stone to higher and greater ground. Dare to be different – dare to believe.  Because life is too short to be unhappy.

ADVOCACY AND PEACEFUL DIALOGUE ARE THE KEY WORDS.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ON BUDGET PROCESSES

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ON BUDGET PROCESSES

ADVOCACY VISIT FOR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ON BUDGET PROCESSES

One of the hallmarks of good governance is community preparedness to attain economic and social stability. The neglect on good governance by community members have so stricken poverty level within their environment due to lack of knowledge of their right to issues that lead to development. Community involvement in budget process is a major factor to good governance which leads to community development.

Community development is thus, a highly important issue to the growth of any nation and which involves community stakeholders,  who are the traditional rulers, traditional leaders (Council chiefs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs) that comprises the youth groups, women groups and the men group organizations to take responsibility on the interest of their communities as to their development projects.

In Nigeria, the flow of governance has been a top – bottom approach which leaves the grasssroot insignificant in governance. It has always been that those who govern makes  budget process look so bureacratic and complex through their activities thus alienting the people from participating in it. But the fact remains that the poor have potentials to overcome their poverty through proper involvement in the commitment and concerted effort by various parts of their society to make this happen through their understanding of community involvement in budget process which entails planning, implementation, monitoring their budget at both LGA level and at the state level.

From the foregoing, the exclusion can largely be blamed on the ignorance of the people, since majority of the citizens are unaware of their rights and obligation to participate in decision making and governance. There are already existing structures at the grass  root, including women and youth Community Based  Organizations, traditional institiutional structure, the town union and community at large. These are anchor points of the community that can launch out governance to be known to the community with the responsibility of appropriation and oversight of the executives to ensure that the budget of the community is known to the community so that they will ensure that their budget is not distorted and is properly effected and its project invariably accountable with respect to budget of the community for improving their economic  and social situation.

Community stakeholders’  capacity need to be  strengthened  to engage their community members to identify, understand, and know how to participate on budget development,  implementation and monitoring  to achieve inclusive budgeting required to achieve the Millennnium Development Goals (MDGs) and other Public and Private interventions.

MICRO CREDIT FACILITIES AS A TOOL FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF RURAL WOMEN.

Micro credit facilities means the provision of little amount of money to someone to start a new trade or improve on an existing one.

Sustainable development means such approaches to development that even though they are embarked upon now, yet does not jeopardize the chances of future generations in attaining their own developmental goals.

Rural women covers all women leaving in places where the yardstick for measuring development like well established markets, good hospitals, high rising buildings, good schools, good roads, electricity and pipe borne water are not available. Usually in this part of the world, cities and seats of power are in urban or semi-urban centres. Other places are rural, and this is where most people including women live.

Poverty:

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (2005), people are counted poor when their standard of living falls below minimum acceptable threshold like food, energy in take, dollar per day or generally subjective measures to welfare on survival.

Poverty wears a multitude of faces and has numerous dimensions. It threatens all aspects of people’s lives by depriving them of the capabilities needed to survive, develop and thrive. It entrenches or widens socio-economic and gender disparities that prevent women from enjoying equal opportunities and undermines protective family and community environments, leaving women and young girls vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, violence, discrimination and stigmatization.

Measures to Reduce Poverty:

Nigeria has taken some measures to reduce the poverty level through various schemes; in the areas of provision of basic needs like health services, education, water supply, food, minimum nutrition requirements and housing among others. These were done but have not really affected the lives of the poor to improve their state of living. Programmes like National Poverty Eradication Program (NAPEP), Small Medium Industries Equity Investment Scheme (SMIEIS) and the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) etc have been initiated to provide credit facilities to grass root poor persons to improve their standard of living.

As at 2001, Central Bank of Nigeria survey shows that bulk of credit beneficiaries were women, as most of the Micro Finance Institutions began with some Non Governmental Organizations that have the promotion of women’s welfare as the basis for their establishment.

The rural smallholder is the epicenter of extreme poverty and hunger. Families of which women are usually the breadwinners face a vicious cycle of vulnerability, diseases and environmental degradation. These rural women are the bench mark of socio-economic status in community. They make sure that the livelihood of the family is either improved or maintained because they are responsible for the upbringing of world’s children. Poverty on the side of these women generally results in the physical and social underdevelopment of their children which in future affect economic and social development of a Nation.

Rural Women As Good Managers:

A good manager is always one that knows how and when to plan, execute the plan and achieve results. These are features seen in rural women. They try to maximize the little available resources resulting to achieve feeding their families. In light of this, according to the micro-credit summit campaign, experience shows that women are good credit risk takers of which they invest their income towards the well being of their families and also they have a higher social status achieved within the home whenever they are able to provide income for the family.

We are living at a time in history when the responsibility for the stewardship of humanity and the planet is shifting from Men to Women. We must combine home economics approach with income generating activities which are relevant and useful to women. As we face the challenges of the future, it is clear that Women’s wisdom, values and voices are sorely needed. In the present chaotic world, only women can handle any difficulty with patience and perseverance. The talent, patience, inner strength, power of tolerance, insight, efficiency of a responsible and good woman helps in the governance of a country and its overall progress.

Studies have shown that African women often did more than half the agricultural work, in one case as much as 80%, and that they also played an important role in trade. Rural women in Africa with their rural activities such as farming, micro scale form of business like petty trade are known to be home builders and an avenue of rural development; Women August meetings contributions and launching in the Eastern part of Nigeria has made remarkable impact in rural development like building of community town halls, renovation of community schools, renovation of community markets, electricity, borehole water supply etc. Our rural women have been endowed with wonderful potentials that can aid development if well harnessed. “Empower a Woman, and you have empowered a Nation”. Studies have shown that poverty in the rural areas affects women severely hence the saying that “poverty has the face of a woman”, but I am saying that, if empowered, the hand that rolls the engine (a woman’s hand) creates the wealth.

Wealth is created by people, both rich and poor on different types of approaches. Researchers have shown that micro credit facilities, if well managed can lift rural women to enviable developmental heights; that are of course sustainable. This paper therefore is a powerful wake-up call. It is an appeal to all Policy makers and Implementers as well as Civil Society Organizations, who usually are at the reach of rural women; to redirect strategies for sustainable development in order to better capture the socio-economic and institutional complexities of rural lives (women) and peoples’ aspirations. Government and Fund providers need more than in the past, to ponder how micro credit facilities can contribute to achievement of the ultimate objective of sustainable development. Women, once economically empowered assist in the achievement of Millennium Development Goals:-

-Eradication of Extreme Poverty and Hunger.

-Achieve Universal Basic Education.

-Promote Gender Equality and Women Empowerment.

-Reduce Child Mortality.

-Improve Maternal Health.

-Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases.

-Ensure Environmental Sustainability.

-Develop Global Partnership for Development.

Way Forward:

Empowerment through Skills Training: It is one thing to provide micro credit and another to utilize it well.

–       You must have a skill and willingness to deliver.

–       People that are willing should come together as a cluster.

–       The cluster should be registered as a cooperative society.

–       The cooperative should be functional and active to assist its members.

The cooperative should be able to organize its members for training on different skills like; fish farming, bead making, tie and die, dress making, confectionaries, modeling, all season vegetable cultivation, poultry, snail farming etc. Business nuggets on petty trading, Branding and Packaging will not be left out. Having done the above, micro credit will be provided to the trained women who are grouped according to their skills. The cooperative women’s capacities should be developed on fund management, how to market their products, how to save money with banks, how to repay debt and how to manage when loans are repaid.

This will involve the PEP approach: Participation, Empowerment and Partnership. The government will participate by providing funds, Non Governmental Organizations will participate by managing rural women and funds and the rural women (empowered) will participate by utilizing the resources well and these forms a formidable partnership for sustainable development. The micro-credit facility would be made to be revolving among cooperative members and admits more people so that ownership and partnership exists.

Unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks like inequality, discrimination, favoritism and unnecessary reforms that hinder women from accessing micro-credit facilities and in turn create poverty should be dismantled. Insufficient coordination, excessive policy conditionality and the likes should be removed.

We are blessed with hard working rural women, reputable NGOs, and listening Government, I wonder why we will not succeed if we can think of micro-credit to rural women as one of the tools for sustainable development.

It is my humble submission that the government should make micro-credit facilities available to rural women.

Women create wealth; they should be encouraged to manage the wealth they create so that Poverty would be reduced to its barest minimum.

Sources of Credit Facilities:

-Thrift Banking (Esusu)

-Micro Finance Institutes (MFIs)

-Micro Finance Banks (MFBs)

-International and National NGOs

Types of MFBs

-All workers Micro Finance Bank

-All Community Banks

-Lapo Micro Finance Bank

-Chikum Micro Finance Bank etc.