COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF RURAL WOMEN
The International day of rural women was established by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/136 of 18th December 2007 and was first observed on 15th October 2008. This international day recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”
Prior to this day, WILPF Nigeria held a Women Peace and Security Agenda/Dialogue on the 13th October 2016 in Abuja. This event had in participation fourteen (14) women-focused NGOs and two international guests, Tanya Henderson of MINA’s List and Maria Butler, WILPF Global Director of Programs; who talked on the topics “Women Building Resilient Society” and “Political Participation from Grassroots to Grass tops” respectively.
In observing this International day of rural women, WILPF Nigeria embarked on a medical outreach activity that occurred consecutively in Abuja and Enugu on the 15th October, 2016. This activity in Abuja and Enugu was graced by the visiting WILPF Global Director of Programs, Maria Butler who acknowledged this as her first time in Nigeria. The Abuja activity was held at the Chief’s palace in Goza community while Enugu was at the Health centre, Alulu community. The medical outreach included the test for malaria, checking of Blood pressure and sharing of mosquito nets with priority to pregnant and breast feeding women.
As the activity went on, WILPF Nigeria members gathered to an interactive session with the Director of Programs Maria Butler, who discussed WILPF International programs and the relevance of local to global strategy. She narrated some of the working mechanisms of the major programs listed below, that WILPF undertake;
Work here includes countries that are under the UN council. The International system engages or advocates by listening to happenings at the national/local level and amplifying it at the International spaces.
This program addresses the prevention of arm sales, proliferation of weapons and violence. This involves promoting non-violence, stigmatizing war, and changing the culture of war at the international space.
The International body works in different regions with women organizations working in conflict situations through a model of listening like with WILPF International, which listens trusting that the knowledge is at the region and further builds their program on the findings from within the region. Maria further gave an instance with the Middle East across ten countries as Syria, Libya, and Egypt including other countries where WILPF works with the local women groups and organizes for change, connecting all in a way that brings the feminist approach of listening and understanding what is happenings in conflict societies.
Maria pointed out the International convention on women rights which the Nigerian government had endorsed as Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). She also created awareness towards the upcoming CEDAW review for the year 2017 since the last one in 2008. Maria added that it could be used as a tool/space that exposes the realities of the nation such as; the five percent (5%) representation of women in the parliament- a far cry from equal representation, the conflict issues like the Fulani herdsmen crisis in Enugu and other conflict areas. She added that the review will create an avenue to raise issues at an international space so as to push the National government- an avenue to hold the government accountable but also encourage them towards positive steps; also suggesting that the Geneva office could work with the National office in Nigeria to present the reality of what happens in different spaces.
The President, WILPF Nigeria with gratitude in her voice pointed out that the visit of Maria Butler made more visible the connection between the local context and the international level with reference to the advocacies that go on in the United Nations office as related by the Director of Programs, New York. She also added that Maria’s visit will provide a more grounded personal view in terms of advocating for Nigeria.
In Enugu, majority of the results collated after the medical outreach was quite encouraging. All of the women tested for malaria turned up with negative results. However, out of the thirty two (32) women who checked their Blood pressure, only 22% were highly hypertensive while 35% were moderate and 43% were normal. These women with the high Bp results were further advised to see their local doctors for proper management.
Maria Butler noted Nigeria as one of the best WILPF sections in comparison to India, Columbia, e.t.c; adding that the dynamic nature of the people gave them a lot to listen for and learn from.
The President of WILPF Nigeria with gratitude in her voice pointed out that the visit of Maria Butler made more visible the connection between the local context and the international level with reference to the advocacies that go on in the United Nations office as related by the Director of Programs, New York. She also added that Maria’s visit will provide a more grounded personal view in terms of advocating for Nigeria.
She gave her vote of thanks to the Director of Programs, WILPF members & volunteers and staff of WILPF Nigeria after which the session came to an end.