Participants of the livelihood support program with the Executive Director of Gender Mobile Initiative (Ms. Omowunmi Ogunrotimi)
Economic empowerment has long been regarded as a crucial factor in structural interventions in the quest to reduce gender-based violence (GBV) amongst women & girls (USAID, 2014). GBV is a troubling social pandemic and a widespread public health problem which exerts serious detrimental effects on women’s health, well-being and their ability to attain their full potential. Global and regional estimates on violence against women reported by WHO, revealed that one in three women world wide has experienced either physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or non-partner in their life-time. Forced/early marriage results in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupts schooling, limits the girl’s opportunities and increases her risk of experiencing domestic violence as well as raises the barriers to gender equality in education and wider society. All these effectively remove women from the labour market opportunities and they are forced to engage in lower-earning opportunities like farming and informal ones. With little or no means of livelihood, women and girls become increasingly vulnerable to their abusers as they are either mostly or totally dependent on them.
With the understanding that economic opportunities assist women to break free from the cycle of dependency, Gender Mobile Initiative (GMI) livelihood support program aims to support livelihoods improvement for widows who are the breadwinners of their family through skills acquisition, psychosocial support as well as increasing awareness and understanding of their rights and how to exercise them. In line with GMI’s mission to connect vulnerable women and girls to comprehensive support services through a strong and accessible platform leveraging technology. The organization conducted a 2 -day skill training for widows between the ages of 25 - 55 years across Ekiti State.
The project was conducted in commemoration of the International Widow’s Day which is a global day set aside by the United Nations to address the social, economic, cultural and political issues that affect widows. GMI in partnership with Make Me Elegant Foundation and the Nigerian Union of Journalist, held the empowerment training for widows on the 1st and 2nd of June, 2019 at the Nigeria Union of Journalist Hall in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria. 35 women from across the state were trained in four (4) skills; wig making, beaded slippers, leather footwear and papercraft. The participants were addressed on the issues that affect the livelihood of women and make them vulnerable to various forms of abuse. The importance of sustainable skills for women and how crucial financial freedom is for widows was also emphasized. Outstanding participants were gifted with start-up kits and certificate of participation were issued to all the participants.
The sustainable skills training for widows align with the organization’s vision for a society devoid of all forms of gender-based violence that undermines the wellbeing of women and girls. The economic empowerment of these women will not only improve the lifestyles of their household but would also increase their bargaining power within their various communities and beyond.