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DRIVING THE WPS AGENDA: Lessons from the Field

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“…Without adequate funding, one cannot achieve much!” – Queen Mother
Queen Mother, Mama Awanyo 1, officially known as Euphemia Dzathor is a female traditional ruler from the Alavanyo Deme community in the Volta Region of Ghana. The community has a history of protracted communal conflict leading to colossal breakdown of basic amenities such as education and loss of economic activities – endemic poverty, high rate of school drop-out, youth restiveness among others. The community operates two layers of leadership structure – the male chief’s jurisdiction covers everyone while the Queen Mother’s jurisdiction only covers issues of concern to women such as ensuring that women perform their gender roles as expected. As a Queen Mother, Mama Awanyo 1 often used her position to advocate for better life for women and children by providing educational support and small grants to women, lobbying for increase in teachers posting to the schools and providing aid in the provision of teachers’ accommodation. She ensures that women in her community benefit from government policies such as the free education policy and other basic amenities. Her efforts and consistent advocacy seem to have paid off with most of the youth now gainfully occupied and the community recording increase in school in-take leading to significant reduction in the numbers of out-of-school children and the rate of school dropouts. Probably, the most obvious success is the fact that women are now allowed in the meeting of elders. This is no mean feat in a patriarchal society where gender norms are strictly adhered to. For the Queen Mother, a lot still needs to be done because as she said; “we are not yet there! Women are still lagging woefully behind in meaningful participation in leadership but without adequate funding, one cannot achieve much!”
“Women have become more assertive and demanding their rights!” – Emem Okon
n Nigeria, women’s contributions to communal peace process is being recognized in the Niger Delta where the Eleme Council of female chiefs have recorded significant success in ending the spate of violence against women in their community. One of such female chiefs is Chief Miriam, who is a long-term beneficiary of WANEP capacity building initiatives and a member of the customary court. Women in the communities have been empowered and have become assertive in their localities. Rumuekpe women working in close collaboration with other CSOs such as the Kebetkachet Women Development Center led by Ms. Emem Okon, contributed to ending violent crises in their local government area by brokering peace between the warring youth, rebuilding schools and aiding in the resettlement process. Women are now included in community development clusters and government structures where they serve as female council members and lending their voices in support of the oil spillage clean-up campaigns. Emem summarizes the progress made so far in community-led interventions thus; “the women have been so empowered to become assertive and demand for their rights. This is a welcome development and a plus for women’s effective participation at the community level!”

Advancing the WPS Agenda through Community-Led Interventions

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