The women for women movement is a women’s pressure group working in collaboration with men to press for progress in the realization of women’s empowerment and development in Nigeria,
Women are alarmed at the decline and reversal in many gains of previous years as we record unimpressive figures in girls without formal education and high dropout rates, women without access to antenatal care, falling numbers of women in politics as elected and appointed representatives., absence of deliberate actions to advance women by implementing the national gender policy and other legislative instruments.
On other fronts, the exposure of women and girls to violent crimes, conflicts, herdsmen attack, exploration by militants and cultists, drugs and sexually induced crime/oppression and abuse have made the living environment for women and girls a matter of national emergency.
State Level Overview
Rivers State women have had to deal with several factors that Inhibit their full participation in the development of their states, due to lack of the State’s clear roles and commitments to bridge gender gaps. Weak Government institutions to promote rights and values that promote gender equality at all levels has continued to relegate women’s role and contribution to the state. Others include the patriarchal nature of our society, disinheritance of women and Gender stereotypes. Women groups and CSGs have however continued to mount much effort in the struggle to bring such injustices of inequality, de empowerment, and social exclusion to an end. Despite these efforts, there are little or no significant results to women’s perspectives in the State.
Women are gradually assuming new roles as household heads in the state and generating income to meet the needs of their families. They are responsible not only for food production but also for processing, fuel, water, health, childcare, sanitation, and the entire range of survival needs in our communities. They participate in the commercial sector and focal enterprise which play critical roles in food production at community levels, but are deprived the opportunity to actively participate in decision making and development processes in their communities and in the state.
Lack of social economic status has resulted in high ratio of school dropout amongst girls. Sexual violence and early pregnancy has become- a common aspect among young women below the ages of 18 (Malikl, 2010) In addition, the increasing prevalence of sexual crimes against women and female minors across the state is increasing the spread of HIV/AIDS, making women and girls the most affected party.
With all of these factors and the direct impact of increased criminality, cult activities on woman and girls women’s perspective to peace and security are still not well articulated into the Peace and Security Architecture of Rivers State as it were in the Niger Delta Pre and Post Amnesty Plans.
The debilitating environmental situation in the Niger Delta Region is more severe in Rivers State. Women and Children bear the brunt of this with little or no gain from the proceeds of oil and gas activities that have brought about the degradation of our environment. Women have silently lost their livelihoods due to environmental degradation but have been excluded from any form of compensation, mainly because women in most affected communities are not land owners as a result of disinheritance cultures and practices. While they depend on the land for survival they cannot be compensated when it is destroyed.
We however will also mark our gains as women; for the first time in Rivers State we have a Female Deputy Governor. Her pedigree speaks against the tokenism factor that might be attached to her emergence as the Deputy Governor of Rivers State. To this we are saying many other women have the capacity to lead and they should be allowed a fair chance across all our political parties in the state.
The just concluded Local Government primaries in Rivers State are also of utmost concern to the National women4women body. We observed that in all 23 LGAs, only one woman contested as LGA chairman for her Party while several others were asked to step down.
While we congratulate our dear sister for putting up a good fight and thank her party for creating the enabling environment for her, we are saying this is an unimpressive outing for our female politicians. We humbly request that women who participated in the elections be encouraged with appointive positions so they can participate actively in the development of their local communities and LGAs.
Women4Women Rivers State chapter joins her voice with women all over the world to press for progress to advance the development of our states and nation. We are making our mark by congressing in Abuja on the 10th of May 2018 in a bid to hold a women’s national grand rally, the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Women4women will speak with one voice covering every issue affecting every woman and girl across Nigeria, so as Rivers Women, we are taking ear issues along with us to ensure this time we press for progress till we have marked results.
A stoppage of Oil spills and Gas flares by the International Oil Companies by the Federal Government of Nigeria and her regulatory bodies in partnership with the State government
Women In Politics
There should be a legal framework for the implementation of the 35% affirmative action for women in elective and appointive positions in Rivers State. These provisions should be made compulsory for political parties contesting for positions at the Local Government and Ward Level as supervised by Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission as a legal requirement.
Rivers State Women call For PEACEFUL ELECTIONS in Rivers State and therefore, call upon the Federal government of Nigeria, the Independent Electoral Commission, The Security Agencies, the State Government to work together to ensure the electoral violence of 2010 and the subsequent re-run elections do not repeat itself in 2019.
Rivers State Women are asking the Rivers State Government to uphold his word by ensuring all Local Government Seats are held by Men and deputized by women or hold by women and deputized by Men as instructed by him in words and in action as he also has a female deputy governor.
We demand that economic empowerment opportunities and loans be tailor made and targeted at vulnerable farmers and rural business women across Rivers State to increase their income and community day care centers and creche be made to increase their productivity.
Women4Women demand that female owners of small and medium enterprises in urban areas and Semi-urban areas be targeted skills empowerment, entrepreneurial training and loan access.
Women in Rivers State should be given special loan consideration from banks, collaterals should be written off for women that can provide credible guarantors.
Women, Access To Information And ICT, Digital Rights
Given the importance of ICT Energy to economic development and growth, there is need to explore the introduction of affordable/appropriate renewable energy and ICT infrastructure in Rivers State communities.
Create database of women and girls across key sectors for easy access and communication with them on health, security, economic empowerment and educational information.
Establish more Primary Health Centers across our communities and establish tertiary health facilities in LGAs faced with the most debilitating environmental issues. Integrate Sexual Reproductive Health Rights into Primary Health Care services.
Establish robust Sexual Reproductive Health Right Departments in all primary and tertiary health institutions to access family planning, pre exposure prophylaxis, counseling and other SRHR service for women and girls.
The Rivers State Government should conduct an audit of the Educational assets of the states from kindergarten to secondary, take them on, improve their overall standards and ensure education is free and accessible for girls across the state from kindergarten through secondary schools
Provide special scholarship programmes for vulnerable girls across all LGAs in Rivers State and scholarship quotas for children of single mothers.
Inculcate civic education, ICT awareness and entrepreneurial training in the educational curriculum for primary and secondary state schools (If possible as compulsory vocational subjects and extra-curricular activities).
Gender And Climate Action
Conduct a comprehensive or women’s perspective and experience with regards to environmental degradation and climate change.
Make available renewable energy sources for rural women to reduce their dependence on fossil fuel which is mostly artisanal refined crude and firewood.
Develop solar plants, gas turbines to power grinding mills and cold rooms for women to preserve and process their products. Develop and implement a Gender Climate Change Action Plan for Rivers State.
Violence Against Women And Girls
The Rivers State Action Plan on Women Peace and Security Developed by the Rivers State Ministry of Women of Women Affairs be fully adopted and funded by the Rivers State Government and included in the peace architecture of the state.
Rivers State government should declare a State of emergency on sexual Violence and Rape against Women and girls and provide safe and free treatments for survivors.