As the world celebrates women and their many contributions to human development, Toguna Peace and Development Foundation, an international NGO and its partners have unveiled a programme for peace and the empowerment of women to optimize their capacity as nation builders and agents of development.
Speaking during the event under the theme: “Women: Peace Builders of Society,” at the Garki Model Market, Abuja, in celebration of the International Women’s Day on 8th March 2016, Dr Mariane Ngoulla, Executive Director of Toguna Peace and Development Foundation, explained that the programme, which involves a micro-credit scheme, vocational skills acquisition, education and tutorial for children, seeks to promote peace and empower market women and their families.
Partnering with the Foundation in the execution of this programme are the ABUCOOP Micro-finance Bank Limited, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Vocational Centre, Federal Capital Territory, and the Junior Chamber International (JCI), a youth organization, she said, adding that more partners and stakeholders were expected to join.
Dr. Ngoulla told the gathering of women traders that the programme was part of a series planned by the Toguna Peace and Development Foundation to empower women, who occupy a critical position in the “tripod” for the realization of peace and development in society – the children, youth and the family.
“Without peace there can be no development and women play an indispensible role in this equation,” she said, adding that by availing themselves of the benefits of the programme offered by the Foundation and its partners “women will be empowered economically/financially, not only to realize their full potential, but also become self-reliant and contribute more effectively and meaningfully to peace and development in their families, communities and the nation at large.”
In his remarks Mr. Peter Zekeri, Head of Business Development at ABUCOOP Micro-finance Bank, commended the Toguna women peace and empowerment initiative and assured that the Bank with about 15-billion naira asset base has a range of products for small scale enterprises (SMEs) and the “economically active poor” of the society.
“Experience has shown that the major problem is not money per se but money management,” he said, adding that ABUCOOP would assist beneficiaries of its products to “manage their money/finance, grow and coordinate their businesses, and prioritize their needs.”
Women play a key role in the family and the society at large and “there can be no peace in the family when there is no food on the table,” Mr. Zekeri said, explaining: “What we are looking out for is faithfulness.”
A classic example of women’s diligence and faithfulness in the repayment of loans granted without the rigid conventional banking conditions is the Grameen Bank set up by Bangladeshi 2006 Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus.
The Chairman of FCT Vocational Centre, Mr. Ene Nwannaji, explained that the Centre has flexible courses that will allow the women to improve their skills and earning power.
“Knowledge not shared is not acquired,” he opined, and urged the women to seize the opportunity on offer under the Toguna peace and empowerment programme to acquire and spread knowledge and at the same time become economically/financially self-reliant.
In his contribution, the President of the Junior Chamber International Mr. Benjamin Ibazukor pledged the commitment and full support of the youth to the Toguna empowerment initiative because of its potential benefits to the promotion of peace and development in the family and society at large.
Princess Kofo, the Garki Model Market women leader expressed delight at the peace and empowerment programme and pledged the effective participation of the market women.
“Women are the engine of peace and development in the society and empowering women is empowering the society and the nation,” she stressed.
Other women leaders echoed similar sentiments and participants who raised issues during the interactive session, received clarifications on the programme, including on the duration, ceiling and repayment terms of the planned micro-credit and how the vocational training could be tailored to suit the peculiar needs of the market women.
The event also featured a drama sketch illustrating how a market dispute can be resolved through dialogue under the Toguna shelter. There was also the rendition of the Toguna Peace Song.
The Peace and women empowerment programme is a follow up to the Essay Competition for Schools and in the FCT and Youth Debate which the Toguna Peace and Development Foundation organized in February 2016 in collaboration with its partners – the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Gowon Centre, the Kukah Centre and the JCI.
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