The Voice of Women FM, popularly known as WFM 91.7, the official media partners of the Gender and Accountability Project, made industrious use of their wide network to raise the decibel of the voices in demand for accountability in Nigeria. The Voice of Women FM held a sensitization rally in the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Yaba, Lagos on the 22nd March, 2019. This activity was carried out in line with the organization’s mandates and its involvement in the implementation of the Gender and Accountability Project (GAP-C) in partnership with the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), and with support from the MacArthur Foundation.
The Gender and Accountability Project is an intervention necessitated by the absence of female voices in the demand for accountability, and in the fight against corruption.
Corruption is a form of dishonesty or criminal activity undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority to acquire illicit profit. In Nigeria, corruption is a menace that has afflicted the people and nation. It is seen in every sector from education to agriculture, politics, health, religion, government etc.This Phenomenon occurs on varying scales ranging from small favors also known as” petty corruption” to large scale or “grand corruption”. To further understand the nature of corruption, and to document its impact and primary recipient, the gender lens has become an essential apparatus to engage for clarity on issues of corruption.
Therefore, to tackle the problems in our society, it is imperative to rally the voices of women into a force that stands against corruption, understands their place in the society and places a premium on demanding for accountability from political and non-political leaders in Nigeria, hence, the implementation of the sensitization rally. The sensitization rally was conducted with the motives of; raising awareness on corruption through real-life occurrences and its effect on the female gender, raising awareness on accountability and sensitization on methods to its demand, helping participants identify how they have been affected by corruption and get them to share their experiences, putting women at the fore-front of the accountability crusade and ensuring the scaling-up of the accountability demand.
On successful completion of the sensitization rally, participants upgraded their knowledge on corruption and its effect on women, participants also built their capacity on methods to demand accountability. At the end of the event, and for sustainability of the intervention, a Gender and Accountability Club was set-up with students as its members. This group of students would further cascade down the demand for accountability discourse, they would also meet timely to scale-up related issues to major stakeholders and actors in the demand for accountability for further action.
The Women’s Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) conducted a two-day Capacity Building session for Women at the Grassroots to constructively demand Accountability and Challenge Corruption. The activities which took place on the 18th and 19th of October, 2018 in Aeron Suites, Osogbo, Osun State and on the 22nd and 23rd of October, 2018 in Abeokuta, Ogun State were in tandem with the organization’s implementation of the Gender and Accountability Project (GAP-C), which is an intervention necessitated by the absence of female voices in the demand for accountability, and in the fight against corruption. The project is being implemented in partnership with the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) who coordinates the Gender and Accountability Project Cohort (GAP-C) comprising seven (7) organizations. The project is a deliberate intention on the part of the funders, MacArthur Foundation to include the voices of women in the discourse.
Corruption is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as it reduces access to resources and hinders development, and it also deprives people of advancement opportunities. Corruption has been high on the governance reform agenda for decades as it constrains development and causes conflicts. Corruption affects everybody in the country most especially women, women’s disempowerment and their dependence on public service delivery mechanisms for access to essential services increases their vulnerability to the consequences of corruption-related service delivery deficits. Corruption disproportionately affects poor women because of their low levels of economic and political empowerment which constrains their ability to hold states accountable to deliver services. The WARDC’s mandate within the context of the Gender and Accountability Project (GAP-C) is to strengthen women groups for institutionalizing anticorruption and accountability in Nigeria.
The implementation of a Capacity Building session for women especially at the grass root level to demand accountability, and challenge corruption, was embarked on to empower, these women on how to constructively demand accountability from the government. This capacity building session was informed by the fact that women at the grassroots have a high dependency on government services for survival, and lack economic and political leverage. Challenging factors that contribute to this seemingly apathy is low level of education, lack of awareness of the patterns of corruption emanating from the deprivation of these services, as well as its impact. The capacity building was also pertinent to active engagement with the stakeholders, government parastatals and all other agencies and duty bearers involved in providing amenities to demand for demand for accountability, and also challenge corruption.
As a result of this two-day capacity building session, more women at the grass-root level of Osun and Ogun States have now increased their capacities to recognize and challenge corruption, and demand for accountability, which is anticipated to improve the living standards of these women. The stakeholders and representatives of government parastatals also had increased knowledge on the causal effects of poor service delivery and corruption, and better equipped to be intentionally put in measures to drive transparency and good governance.
The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), participated in the MacArthur Foundation On Nigeria Grantees meeting, which took place on the 3rd of October, 2018 at Ibeto Hotel Abuja, Nigeria. The meeting was organized to increase the knowledge of grantees on the MacArthur Foundation’s new agenda and how the work of other grantees contributes to the success of the foundation’s mission in Nigeria.
Organizations notably in attendance were BudgIT, PACAC, PICA and Whistleblower Unit, The Cable Foundation, ICIR, SERAP, AFRICMIL, Al Habibiyyah Islamic Society, Lux Terra, Palace of Priests Assembly, Mambayya House, and other grantees of the MacArthur Foundation.
The meeting featured three (3) panel discussions, a legal presentation on guidelines for involvement in electoral process by grantees, presentation of two (2) very intriguing videos on ‘Education’ and ‘Criminal Justice’, and a key message from MacArthur Foundation Chicago to the On Nigeria Grantees.
The first (1st) panel discussion was on Government Anti-Corruption by Bolaji Owasonye – Executive Secretary, PACAC; Mohammed Dikwa – Coordinator PICA and Whistleblower Unit. This was followed by a second (2nd) panel discussion on Investigative Journalism and Amplification by Abiose Adelaja – The Cable Foundation; Rosemary Olufemi – ICIR; Timothy Adewale – SERAP; and Abdulaziz Abdulaziz – AFRICMIL. The third (3rd) panel discussion was an Update on the work of Faith-Based Organization Grantees by Rekiyah Momoh – Al Habibiyyah Islamic Society; Mike Utsaha – Lux Terra; Palace of Priests Assembly; Moses Aluaigba – Mambayya House. The three (3) sessions were moderated by Dr. Kole Shettima, Amina Salihu and Dayo Olaide, all form the MacArthur Foundation
The video on ‘Education’, presented by Civic Media Lab and BudgIT, focused on GJSS, Gombe State, a secondary school with only 3 classrooms, with very poor infrastructure. The video was advocating for the amendment of the UBE Act before 2020.
The video on ‘Criminal Justice’ presented by PRAI and LEDAP focused on the story of a man named Babagana who was wrongly charged with armed robbery, and locked up for 8 years without trial after which the prosecution could not produce witnesses. His rights were violated as he was brutalized and refused access to healthcare. The video advocated for the amendment of the Criminal Justice Act.
The Managing Director Programs of the MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, U.S.A, Stephanie Platz, during her address informed grantees of all the recent programmatic successes and plans of the Foundation, including the news that the current President of MacArthur Foundation is stepping down in 2019.
During the Legal Presentation on Guidelines for Involvement in Electoral Process by Grantees, the grantees present were reminded of the foundation’s policies on implementations of interventions around elections and transparency.
The MacArthur Foundation on Nigeria Grantees meeting was indeed a very insightful and successful meeting, all objectives necessitating the meeting were met, grantees were updated on the new agendas of the MacArthur Foundation and collaborations and linkages opportunities among grantees were harnessed for better increased success in interventions.