IDS Nigeria struggling for women empowerment

By 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 children.
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 alleviation.
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?
IDS-Intercommunity 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 Nigeria.
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.