From Tony John, Port Harcourt
A women’s group and non-governmental organisation, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, has called on community leaders to increase women participation at the grassroots. The call was against the backdrop of women being absent in governance structures in some communities.
Speaking at the capacity-building training on “Gender and Social Inclusion” in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the executive director, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Emem Okon, noted that there should be inclusive processes of women in community matters.
Okon stressed that there was nothing bad for women to be part of community development committees, council of chiefs, youth councils and other structures of governance in the community, so that development projects would have an impact on all.
She said: “We reason that development projects do not impact on every member of the community and that is because women are not part of the processes of identifying projects and also implementation. Even while development projects are going on in communities, women claim they have no knowledge of it and are not impacted. This means that they are excluded.
“So, we are engaging the community leaders to ensure that there is an inclusive process of women as CDCs, Council of Chiefs, Youth Councils in their communities.”
The executive director stressed that capacity of women has been built in their communities to ensure that their problems are being taken on board and issues addressed.
She further said: “We have build capacity of women to engage with different stakeholders in their communities to ensure that their problems are being taken onboard when decision making processes are taken by the leaders. We always understand that when women are organized in their communities and not targeting at people who have the responsibilities and powers to address the issues, then, they can organize and get the results.”
On the overview of the project, the Project Leader Oxfam International, Henry Ushie, said the essence of the workshop was to get stakeholders and communities to understand their roles in community resource governance that could translate to essential services for them at their various communities.
She explained: “We have to get stakeholders and communities to understand the objectives of the programme, so that by the time we start implementing, they are able to understand their roles in community resource governance and management and translating to essential services for them at the community level and how they participate in their own governance.”
Also, the first female Chief of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State, Chief Josephine Ogoba, called for the appointment of women into political offices, like the local government chair person in Delta State, as no woman has held that position.
Chief Ogoba said: “What I want to implement is women in offices. Like the local government chairmanship in Delta State is rotating. But, women have not held that position. Even in CDCs of communities, they do not allow women to hold that sensitive position.
“But, now we will work to see how we can implement to make a woman become a chairperson in Delta State and CDCs in some of the communities, so we can see the different works of men and women and how transparent they are.”
On the roles of leadership and community development, the guest speaker, Pius Dukor, of Pius Dukor Foundation, stressed that community leadership and development of grassroots innovation, which operate in inches, require nurturing.
He urged the community leaders to work effectively in their various communities of the Niger Delta, in order to create sustainable peace, employment and development to the people in their various communities.