IDS Nigeria struggling for women empowerment

Milena Rampoldi and Denise Nanni, ProMosaik. In the following our interview
with McShimana Jacobs Akem, Project Director of IDS-Nigeria
an organisation working for children and women empowerment and justice and equity
in Nigeria. We talked also about how to struggle against gender violence and
how to involve the civil society in the challenges around women and children
empowerment in the country by involving men in the struggle for women rights.

Which are
the main issues you address at IDS?
The main issues we address at IDS includes: Facilitating
sustainable development programme to improve on the living conditions of
vulnerable women, youth, children and other minority groups through;
a.       Promotion of peaceful co-existence: This is through peace
building, mediation, rehabilitation and reconstruction of conflicts affected
areas with particular emphases on internally displaced women, youth (girls) and
b.      Socio-economic empowerment: We do this
through livelihood vocational skills training, provision of start-up capital to
vulnerable women and girls and capacity building training on entrepreneurship
development and market access for employment creation, income generation and poverty
c.       Education:  Our
educational programme focuses on promoting orphans and other vulnerable
children (Girls Child) access to literacy, numeracy and live skills for improve
quality of life.
d.      Health (HIV/AIDS and SRHR): We create public
awareness and community sensitization on HIV/AIDS and other sexually
transmitted infectious (STIs) and conduct advocacy to promote sexual and
reproductive health and rights of women/girls and other minority groups.
e.      Justice and Equity in Nigeria: IDS is committed
to addressing gender disparity in the society by  promoting
gender equity through awareness creation and capacity strengthen of the demand
and supply-side actors to increase arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of
violence against women and girls in Nigeria to promote justice for the victims.

How do you promote women empowerment?
Development Social Organization promotes women/girls empowerments in the
following areas:
a.       Livelihood vocational skills training: We mobilized and train women
and youth (girls) on relevant marketable
livelihood vocational skills programme focusing on detergent and cosmetics
production, catering/bakery, bead marking, tailoring and dress making
(Knitting) to provide them with employable skills or help the beneficiaries
start-up own small scale business for income generation and poverty alleviation.
b.      Revolving Credit Schemed: Vulnerable women/girls who
have no collateral securities to obtained credit facilities from financial
institution to start new enterprises or expand on the existing small business
are supported with capital through the IDS revolving fund management schemed to
improve on their business as an empowerments strategy. 
c.       Small Scale Agricultural production: We strengthen the capacities
of women and other smallholder farmers associations including cooperative
societies on Administrative/financial management, Agricultural productive chain
analysis, Revolving fund management, marketing and fundable business plan
development to address the issue of food security, create employment and
improve on the beneficiary income generation.
d.      Entrepreneurship development: We provide entrepreneurship
development and market access to our beneficiary women and girls to enable them
sale their produces profitably and also support them with financial linkage
services to development finance institutions to raise  additional
fund for the expansion of their business.
Do you engage men in your activities? If
yes, how has civil society been responsive so far?
IDS  is a women
focused non-profit and NGO. However, we do engage men (youth) to support the
organization in the realization of the organization aims and objectives. The
civil society has been responsive by holding stakeholders accountable and
advocating for gender friendly policies and engagement in intervention
programme aimed at improving on the quality of lives of our target beneficiary
women, youth (girls), children and other minority groups.
How do you address gender violence?
We address gender
based violence through the following intervention programme:
a.       Capacity
building of the supply-side actors (Magistrates, Police, Social welfare
officers and other services providers) and the demand-side actors (NGOs, FBOs,
CBOs and the media) to increased presure, arrest and prosecution of the
perpetrators of gender based violence (GBV) in Nigeria.
b.      We
have established violence against women and girls Toll-Free  Telephone
Helpline  08099936317 to
provide advice and guideline for the victims of violence against women/girls to
seek justice and other support services including socio-economic empowerment.
c.       Increasing
awareness on the issue of VAW through production and airing of a documentary
titled: Silent Faces (Zero Tolerance on VAW) and free distribution of IEC
materials  to
promote the rights of  vulnerable
women and girls including those in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in
Do you cooperate with
local authorities and institutions? If yes, how?
Yes; IDS-Intercommunity Development Social Organization is a
net-work organization and do partner with government at the national, state and
local government level to seek an enabling environment for effective implement
the our programme and activities to achieve the organizational objectives. Some
of our key Nigeria ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) partners include;  Federal
Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, National Human Rights
Commission(NHRC), National  Bureau
of Statistics(NBS) and Yaba Collage of Technology Lagos. Others are Borno,
Plateau and Nasarawas State government. Since our projects are mostly targeted
at vulnerable women, youth (girls) and children at the grassroots communities,
we do partner local government authorities where we do work or implementing our
activities. In addition to government MDAs we do collaborate with the media,
traditional and religious institutions and other relevant stakeholders for
successful project implementation.