This iteration of WLDI’s advanced human rights advocacy training was carried out in close collaboration with Civil Resource and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) in Enugu, Nigeria. Oby Nwankwo, Director of CIRDDOC traveled from Nigeria to Dar es Salaam to observe the final session of Activist Facilitator’s International training program. From there she negotiated with the Open Societies Initiative West Africa for funding. The training team was composed of Jane Magigita from Tanzania and Virginia Feix of Brazil, Oby Nwankwo and me. This was the first time we had the opportunity to carry out the program with facilitators who had graduated from our international training program. It was also unique in that we worked with women, most of them lawyers, in a focused region of in one country. Five to seven participants from each of nine states in Eastern Nigeria participated including: Abia State, Ebonyi State, Anambra State, Imo State, Rivers State, Akwa-Ibom State, Cross Rivers State, Enugu State and Bayelsa State. These states were small, (2 to 3 million inhabitants each) composed of mostly rural communities. The training course took place over two years, including three week-long training workshops with interim assignments being carried out by each state team. The participant teams were helped to absorb the sophisticated content of the course through a rigorous process of identifying a rights issues (problem/violation) to be confronted and developing a strategy to achieve a desired change. They were expected to be able to succinctly describe the following:
The chosen problem
The analysis of the problem
The desired goals and outcomes
The selected approach (strategy) to achieving the goals
The activities needed to be carried out
The message offered to the public, law-makers, etc.
The project structure was ideal in many ways. Due to the smaller numbers of participants and more accessible geographical range, it was easier than the projects in Central and East Africa or in Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States. In Eastern Nigeria we were able to provide more targeted feedback and guidance. The leadership provided by Oby Nwankwo in the interim periods also gave the project great cohesion. The issues and strategies the participants chose to work on were specific and manageable. The first workshop took place in Enugu in April, 2003 with an emphasis on affirmative action. The second one took place in June 2004 in, Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, and the last one in ? State Team Projects The Abia State team worked on inheritance issues and set as their goal the passage of an law that would guarantee the rights of women to own property and freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex. The Bayelsa State team targeted the absence of women in the Community Development Committees also based on sex discrimination. Their plan was to draft legislation to assure women a place and work with the community to gain acceptance of the proposal. The Enugu State team also targeted discrimination of women and sought to make the Women's convention effective in Enugu by passing legislation to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women. Their strategy was to draft legislation, lobby the legislature and sensitize the public. The Akwa Ibom State team chose to work on the problem of domestic violence, again by proposing legislation that would restrict and punish perpetrators and protect the victims. The Cross River State team sought to challenge the law establishing the Traditional ruler's Council for not including women. they sought to amend the existing law to include 30% representation of women in the Etubom's Council. The Imo State team also sought for the inclusion of women in the decision-making bodies of traditional communities and set out to change the laws governing these bodies to include of percentage of women. The Anambra State team targeted discrimination against women in decision making and proposed the adoption of an affirmative action policy at the state level. The Ebonyi State team took on the problem of the low level of participation of girls in education in the state. The Rivers State team focused on the absence of women in appointive positions and sought to institute an affirmative action policy that would assure at lease 30% of stat appointments for women.
The states covered in the training are located in the south east region of Nigeria
While most of these issues involved some sort of change in legislation or policy to confront discrimination against women in their communities, the teams understood that they would need to do more than lobbying to achieve their goals. Their assignment to elaborate plans produced detailed schedules that included researching the issue, drafting legislation or policy changes, developing coalitions, developing media campaigns, and lobbying at various levels. While they were in the process of developing these plans, the teams shared their issues and strategy plans with the other participants at the training workshops and received suggestions and feedback from the other participants. In the interim between training workshops, Obi and I also made evaluative trips to most of the states to meet with the teams and offer feedback and suggestions. We observed that some of them showed outstanding leadership and had been able to use the media effectively and gain considerable support among the public in pursuit of their goals. Others needed more assistance.
Case Study IMO STATE The goal of the IMO group was to include 30% women in the traditional councils, including 3 senatorial zones covering 27 communities. The group was been very dynamic in their activities. They recruited allies form a range of organizations, including the press, to work on the issue and they have systematically carried out activities to effect their goal. They worked on
Visiting the traditional rulers of the three zones
Conducting sensitization workshops in each of the zones for community members composed of women, men and youth and also Ezes (Traditional council members)
Although they said they used an interactive methodology, it appeared that the audience members were fairly passive recipients of information. They also used the media and had them intensively work on their message. As a result of their activities, two communities appeared to be more sensitized than the third, whose Eze is not as open to the idea of women in the cabinet. Chiefs in two communities promised to include women. The group's timeframe to achieve their goal was set at three years, but they had not set manageable targets in the interim in order to measure their achievements. During the technical assistance meeting we assisted the group to make a plan of action to revisit the communities a couple of times each between February and December and to refine the goals as follows:
To include 30% women in the traditional councils of the 3 zones by December 2004 as a pilot target.
To expand the number of zones to include the whole state, after the pilot phase was completed.
Final Recommendations: 1. Be clear about the interim and long term goals; 2. Carry out the plan of action systematically 3. Follow up on promises made by the Ezes and the communities.
In the slide show below, some the of the public mobilization they were able to organize is documented in photos.
Participant Statements: Nancy I. Oko-Onya National Co-ordinator Neighbourhood Initiative for Women Advancement (NIWA). The Women Law Development International workshop on Advanced International Human Rights Advocacy for women has been an interesting one. It is a training programme that spanned 3 years. It first started at Enugu on the 6th day of march, 2003. Each session of the 3 year training ran for one week at different locations in Nigeria - Enugu, Abuja and Calaber with interesting facilitating sessions by Margaret Schuler, Virginia Fiex, Jane Magigita and Oby Nwankwo. These wonderful team of facilitators took us through the sessions discussing Human Rights Fundamentals, Human Rights Enforcement, Women’s Human Rights, Human Rights Advocacy. The steps on identifying the problems/issues helped me discover that what I often called problems were not. I was helped to understand that framing a problem in human rights terms helps me identify the rights violated, clarify how the rights were violated, who the violator is. The elements of the legal system helped me appreciate that framing the problem will help me know the role and responsibility of the state in relation to the violation, and the scope and limitations of the law as a tool for bringing about change. The relationship between the substance of the law (what the law says), the structure of the law (how the law is applied and enforced), and the culture of the law (how people regarded the law). This helped me understand when a problem is the violation of a protected right or the lack of law protecting the right. Furthermore, the field work carried out after each of the trainings helped me put into practice the lessons I learnt in the process. I was able to apply the advocacy strategies learnt. The need to research on an issue before embarking on an advocacy so as to be able to present a better argument. The research is a guide in proposing a strong solution or remedy to the problem. It was interesting working on this team for these 3 years. The experiences are real, alive and must be shared with members of my organisation, other NGOs and policy stakeholders. Working as a team was a great encouragement. What I would not have achieved alone I did working with the WLDI Team Ebonyi State.
Rose Olah Nwaogwugwu Imo State The WLDI Human Right Advocacy Training has built my capacity on the different human right instruments. Before the training, I had been hearing about human rights without knowing that I can one day become a human right advocate. It was taboo to talk about summoning the traditional rulers or pulling them out of their palaces for a meeting, but the training on human rights advocacy empowered me on the modalities to approach them and at the same time sensitized them on the issues I wanted to discuss with them. I also learnt that the issues of human rights and women’s rights cannot be handled by one person alone; that success will be achieved through building strong blocks of committed and dedicated people and groups like I did with the gender and equal opportunity bill. The training gave me insight into the saying which says “information is power but disseminating the information is more powerful.” This was evident in the way and manner in which the few Ezes, (traditional leaders) the media group and the women groups who attended our sensitization workshop reacted in sharing themselves in groups; some to lobby the traditional rulers while others to lobby the legislators. My experience is that if the passage of the bill is to be meaningful, the women especially those in the rural communities need to be educated about their rights. This will also go for the traditional rulers more so now that some of them have started to react to our proposal positively. The training exposed me to know how best to identify problems, analyze them and mobilize resources to solve them.