In a bid to empower women in poor and marginalised communities where it works with children, the NGO Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE) recently launched Empowered Mothers for Development Actions (EM-MODAS). According to the NGO, the initiative will empower women with the right information and economic resources for the maximum development of their children and wards.
The pilot phase of the project was launched in Monkey Village, Opebi, Lagos where over 30 women beneficiaries were drafted from different communities. This first phase, according to the organisation, will target 150 women from across five selected states.
Speaking at the launch, Betty Abah, Executive Director, CEE-HOPE Nigeria explained that as a child rights NGO, it is believed that if the women are empowered, their children will be the core beneficiaries.
‘With EM-MODAS, the women beneficiaries will be in an advantageous position to sustain the school, health and overall success of their children.
We have realised that you cannot effectively and sustainably empower children when their families are severely economically disempowered. We empower children to enable them stay in school by providing scholarship and educational materials but we realized that if we want these children to be fully empowered, we need to support their mothers too,’ she said.
According to her, women are the choice for direct empowerment because they are the cooks, health educators, water bearers, caregivers and in some cases, breadwinners in homes. ‘When you empower a mother (with the right information and economic resources), you sufficiently empower a child,’ she further said. Abah added that EM-MODAS would help equip mothers with education on child health, child protection, hygiene and boost their incomes with grants for better sustainability.
The main condition for beneficiaries is to ensure the support is used to retain their children in school.
Dr Princess Olufemi-Kayode, Executive Director of Media Concern for Women and Children (MEDIACON) spoke to the women on child protection. She explained that protecting children is paramount and that includes protection against sexual harassment. “Child protection is beyond giving birth to a child just for the fun of it, you need to know how to properly care of your children.’
She also urged the women to relate with their children as friends. ‘Build a cordial relationship with your children so they can listen and communicate with you freely. You have to be your child’s friend.”
Mr. Willie Workman Oga, Founder of Advocacy for Widows Empowerment Foundation (ADEF), explained that empowerment is key for women because it will enable them cater for their children and to also attain some level of financial independence. He advised them to strive for skills acquisitions and financial independence in case of unforeseen circumstances. ‘It is important for women to be empowered, we should imbibe the culture of entrepreneurship and skills acquisition. We should also instil these cultures in our children.” He promised that his organization would support widows in the host community, Monkey Village.
Dr. Monday Michael Ashibogwu, a journalist and entrepreneur, spoke to the women on business management, sharing tips on how to grow their businesses and manage the grants that would be provided for them. He spoke on the importance of savings which would help to grow their businesses and also enlightened the women on understanding the difference between profit and capital which would guide them in managing the business grant appropriately.
Dr. Kelechi Okezie of Neighbourhood Environment Watch, Ebonyi State, an environmentalist and sanitation/hygiene promoter, taught them on effective sanitation and hygiene practices in order to reduce the burden of falling sick owing to poor hygiene practices. According to him, their health and development are linked to hygiene practices. He also touched on effective washing of hands, ending open defaecation, on menstrual hygiene practices, water safety among others.
According to the organisers, the beneficiaries would be provided with grants to either start new businesses or grow their existing businesses. Bimbo Oshobe, a community mobiliser and savings groups’ expert, enlightened the women on the benefits of saving. She will help coordinate the women across the various communities on the savings program which is an integral part of the scheme.
Esther Alex Bassey, a Monkey Village resident and beneficiary, appreciated CEE-HOPE Nigeria for the initiative which she described as timely.
“This is quite laudable and I am so grateful for this opportunity because nobody could have done this for us, the highest support we could have gotten is loan for our businesses and the interests and conditions for repayment are quite tedious for us and it discourages us from applying,” she said.
“The program was very interesting and very enlightening,” said Deborah Onyegbuna from Surulere area of Lagos.
“I learnt from the business class as some of the tips were eye-opening for me. We were taught to be disciplined, to have delayed gratification in managing our business money. I also learnt how to prevent child rape.”
Adesewa Owolade, 40, a caterer and hair dresser at Monkey Village, was grateful for the information she acquired.
“I learnt a lot about hygiene and sanitation and also how to manage my business money. I also look forward to the grant so that I can use it to boost my business,” she said.