New Faces New Voices, NFNV, is a pan-African NGO set up by Graca Machel, the widow of the late Nelson Mandela, to support women across the continent to be able to access finance as well as create enabling environment for them to do business.
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And the UN Women delegation, led by the entity’s deputy country representative in Nigeria, Adjaratou Fatou Ndiaye, were in Kano to explore opportunities of partnership with New Faces New Voices Nigeria around the empowerment of women affected by the Boko Haram insurgency
The Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria has led to the deaths of over twenty thousand Nigerians mostly men, and therefore, widowed thousands of women and orphaned even more numbers of children.
As part of efforts to ease the sufferings of women widows who are victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria and their orphaned children, New Faces New Voices Nigeria, is working to empower women victims of the insurgency, majority of who have lost their husbands cum breadwinners to the insurrection.
NFNV Nigeria hopes to achieve this by equipping the women with various skills and opportunities to access finance so as to enable them take care of themselves and their dependents: the orphaned children.
Therefore, in trying to achieve this, NFNV Nigeria is partnering the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women i.e. UN Women in Nigeria to explore partnership and fundraising opportunities towards empowering Nigerian women widows affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, towards peace and security in the country.
“New Faces New Voices is a pan-African NGO set up to build the capacity of women to be able to access finance as well as create an enabling environment for them to do business,” said Aishatu Aminu, the country director of New Faces New Voices in Nigeria, during a collaboration meeting between NFNV Nigeria and UN Women in Kano, northwestern Nigeria. “UN Women’s support will help us enhance women’s productivity and capacity in different aspects towards achieving the sustainable development goals.”
She said NFNV Nigeria would be targeting particularly women victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in the northwest, northeast and north central regions of the country adding that women’s empowerment and economic advancement would help in addressing various social ills in the society including security challenge.
“We could borrow a leaf from the NFNV Rwanda and UN Women partnership; here in Nigeria, UN Women and ECOWAS can play an important role in facilitating support for NFNV Nigeria from international donor organizations like the World Bank and UNDP towards achieving our organization’s objectives,” she said.
Stephenia Olumefun, a member of NFNV Nigeria, who is into soap making spoke about the challenges they were facing in their efforts to establish businesses as women, identifying access to finance; high registration charges by regulatory agencies as well as high and multiple taxation as major stumbling blocks for women in business. She called on UN Women to help them with opportunities to access finance.
Speaking on behalf of women widows of the 2014 Kano central mosque bombing that claimed the lives of more than 200 persons – some of whom were also at the meeting – Kubra Diso, NFNV Nigeria’s liaison with the widows said the women widows who were many in number had been left with as many as 10 children (per widow) to cater for, and therefore, urged well-meaning organizations and individuals to come to their aid.
Delivering a welcome remark earlier on, YZ Ya’u, executive director of the Centre for Information Technology and Development, CITAD, (NFNV Nigeria’s partner and host for the collaboration meeting) said CITAD would always be at the forefront of efforts for the empowerment of women through its various projects around entrepreneurship education and enterprises services development.
“The reality is that women are marginalized here,” said Ya’u. “So, we have to mobilise all available voices and resources for women’s emancipation and women’s emancipation cannot be achieved until men and women match together. We assure you of our partnership and continued support to ensure your programs succeed.”
In her response, Adjaratou Fatou Ndiaye, UN Women’s deputy country representative in Nigeria said the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women, was established in 2010 to specifically serve the cause of the womenfolk adding that they (UN Women) had accepted NFNV Nigeria’s offer of partnership and expressed their willingness to work with the NGO to help the womenfolk.
“New Face New Voices Nigeria wants to us to have a partnership, to work together and raise money to empower women,” said Adjaratou Ndiaye. “We therefore need to work with, for example, the [federal] ministry of women affairs, the gender department of ECOWAS to see what opportunities are available and help you access some funding from them. There is also the [UN Women’s] Fund for Gender Equality which can also support the type of work you are doing.”
Speaking on UN Women’s program on Women, Peace and Security, WPS, Njeri Karuru, the program’s manager, acknowledged the Emir of Kano’s commitment to women’s rights and issues of peace and security adding that although women were most affected by situation of insecurity they were rarely involved in decision making around peace and security issues.
“We acknowledge the fact that women are most affected by situation of insecurity. Yesterday, we met women widows affected by a bombing incident [2014 Kano central mosque bombing] so, our program is focusing on promoting women’s engagement in peace and security particularly at the level of decision making – from state to local level. We recognize that the problem is cultural and has to do with low levels of political and socio-economic awareness as well as literacy among women,” Njeri Karuru told the traditional ruler.
“So, we are trying to sensitize and encourage them to focus more on issues concerning security and look after their children since they are the primary socialization for the children. Therefore, if they are well aware of these issues they will be able to socialise them against being involved in violent activities, like we have seen lately with the insurgent groups.”
The UN Women Nigeria’s EU-funded Women for Peace and Security, WPS, programme, currently being implemented in selected Local Government Areas, LGAs, of the northern states of Adamawa, Plateau and Gombe is aimed at promoting women’s engagement around peace and security issues in northern Nigeria. It is particularly aimed at strengthening women’s leadership skills, advancing gender equality and improving protection for women and children in conflict settings.
Speaking on behalf of the Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Galadima of Kano, a senior counselor at the Kano Emirate Council, Abbas Sanusi, expressed his appreciation to the UN Women team for paying the courtesy call on the emir and pledged Kano Emirate’s support for both New Faces New Voices Nigeria and the UN Women.
“There is a wise saying that says if you educate a woman (unlike a man) you are educating the society as a whole,” said Abbas Sanusi. “Therefore, there is need for Muslim societies to support women and women’s organizations. I wish to assure you that the Kano Emirate will always support you to achieve your objectives. Our door is always open for guidance and advices on how to help you support women.”