Ruminating on the role of women in
the society, the former Secretary General
of the United Nations, Kofi Anan did
say, “There is no tool for development
more effective than the empowerment
of women.” Perhaps, this statement
by Anan may have informed the 2018
action plan by the National Council for
Women Societies (NCWS),which aims
at enhancing the welfare of Nigerian
women.
For Mrs. Gloria Shoda, the National
President of NCWS, there is no better time
than now in changing the dynamic and
reshaping the conversation of Nigerian
women, who have for long been at the
receiving end of the country’s depressed
economy.
Engulfed by this consummate
enthusiasm, Mrs. Shoda told our
correspondent about her aggressive
efforts towards implementing the plans
outlined for the year.
Already, the organization has flagged
off an empowerment programme to
provide loan grants to 30 women from
each of the 774 local government areas
across the country.
The initiative which is in collaboration
with the Bank of Industry (BOI), will see
23,220 women receiving N50, 000 each as
non interest loan and without collateral.
The sum total of the loan which amounts
to eleven billion and sixty million naira
(11, 61,0000, 000), is said to be eliciting a
lot of excitement among the women, as
over 1000 had already benefited from the grant.
She remarked thus: “I want to consolidate
on the things I have started in 2017. These
are things like ease of doing business,
sensitizing women on things they want to
know about taxes, about how to apply for
contracts and all those things that women
usually overlook.
“We have started already, we have
flagged it off in Yola, the Adamawa State
capital. We are going to go to different geopolitical
zones to continue. We are also
doing sensitization on agriculture, we are
telling women to go back to the farm. You
know that most women are farmers, many
have small farms behind their backyards.
We want them to now do proper farming
where they see farming as a business.”
After the flag off in Akure, the Ondo State
capital, the president hinted that they are
going to other zones, this time around to different kinds of farming that they can do,
including packaging and storage.
According to her, the association wants
women to go into farming for business not
just for their consumption alone, even as she
stated that they have a couple of people that
are supporting them.
In his postulation, Emily Taft Douglas
once said “If women understood and
exercised their power they could remake the
world” Little wonder NCWS has embarked
on sensitization tour across the country
on women’s political participation in the
forthcoming general elections.
The president stated: “We also want
political empowerment for women. We
want a lot of women to be involved in
politics. We are encouraging women to
come out and contest this time around. And
we are also appealing to fellow women to
support their own and vote their fellow
women into political offices when they have
the courage to contest.
“This is because for women to come to
contest we should give kudos to those
that summon the courage. We encourage
women to rally around them, support them
and vote for them.
“We are also sensitizing a lot of women to
register for voting because many would just
sit and say why am I going to register? The
wahala is too much; after all, when we vote
them into office they do not do anything
for us. We are encouraging them to come
out and register and vote their conscience
this time around not money. So that is the
sensitization we are going to do.”
Statistics has shown that there is still high
maternal mortality in the country. Worried
by this development, the association has
established a medical outreach.
“We have collaborated with people in
the United States, they came last year to
do medical mission in Asaba. This time
around we are thinking of taking them to
the northern states,” Mrs. Shoda stated,
stressing that they are coming to do medical
mission with particular reference to cancer.
She maintained that they will bring their
drugs, their doctors and also do some
surgeries for people, pointing out that they
do not concentrate only on cancer but also
treat other diseases for women.
The president continued thus: “ We are
bring them this time around, but the big
thing in this one is that they are coming also
to install a kind of screening centre for us,
where they will screen people for cancer
without using mammogram.
“You know they use mammogram to
screen for breast cancer now, but I think
they have developed one kind of system
in America where they can screen without
using mammogram. And we are telling
them to come and install and train some of
our medical personnel in those areas, and
they have agreed.
“We are thinking of a number of states,
one or two states to see the one that can
accommodate them because you know they
have to give them accommodation, and the
state has to have the medical facility for
them to do the operations and everything.
They have to have the centre where this
training will happen and those foreigners
will bring their little equipment for free.
We are consolidating on that this year.”
On the aspect of education, Mrs.
Shoda noted that the association would
continue with its vocational training skills
acquisition programmes, and has made
arrangements for women to learn how to
do little things that will give them money.
Apart from training the women on
catering services, the association is
focused on ensuing that they are trained
on sanitation, fashion, makeup and the
emerging threat of climate change.
The president continued, “We are also
veering off a little into the environment.
You can see that things are changing so
fast. The weather is changing drastically.
Think of what is happening in Jos, not
to talk of what is happening in the US
and other climes. The environment is
changing very fast.
“We are also sensitizing women on how
to react to such natural disasters and take
care of their children when such things
happen, or sudden weather change. A lot
of people die of cold because they do not
know what to do. And a lot of people die
of heat-stroke because they do not know
what to do. And this time around when
there is a lot harmattan haze and dusts,
we need to sensitize women on how
to take good care of themselves, their
children, and of course, their husbands.”
Asked about the organisation’s effort
towards curbing issues of rape, teenage
pregnancy, domestic violence, oppressive
widowhood and other vices against
women, Mrs. Shoda quickly responded
with a suppressed rage.
“You see, this issue has been ongoing
for a long time. And all we need to do
is make sure that out state branches
continue to sensitize and to talk to people.
When we talk and say some things in the
radio or television, a lot of people do not
even listen or watch, so they do not even
know what is going on.
“Our women have to go into the
grassroots because NCWS has the
spread, even in the local governments, we
have structures. So let our people begin to
sensitize people and we need to have call
centres.
“But we need funds to have those
call centres. Why we needed those calls
centres are for matters like rape, baby
factory, domestic violence, battery, so that
people can reach out to us and report such
vices and our people will move in and
take appropriate action.
“When we get that kind of report we
let our partners that are experts in such
matters handle them. We have affiliates
that handle such matters. FIDA handles a
lot of things such as rape and all that, and
even the wife of the Vice President has
an NGO that handles that kind of thing .
What we want is to have these centres but
we are looking for funding to have them.”

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