A total of 100 vulnerable women and girls have been equipped with different livelihood skills through the economic empowerment programme by National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) in collaboration with UN Women, and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
The programme was mainly targeted at women and girls living in conflict areas who have lost a means of livelihood and indigent women and girls living with HIV, AIDS, Gender Based Violence (GBV), particularly in Abuja and Kaduna states.
Speaking at the public presentation and graduation ceremony of the Abuja beneficiaries on Tuesday , the UN Women Country representative, Ms. Comfort Lamptey, represented by the National Programme Officer UN Women, Mrs. Patience Ekeoba, explained that the programme is not just targeted at women who are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS but women who have lost their livelihood to conflict and insecurity in the country.
According to Lamptey: “What this women go through is terrible. Women struggle for a means of survival, they can no longer go to the farm because of increasing conflict. We’ve heard stories of women who sold their bodies, women who sold their children to survive.
“With the little resources we have, we try to reach those who are most hit by the conflict, those who are most vulnerable, not just vulnerable because they are poor, so as to uplift them out of their poverty so they can do things for themselves.”
“Empowering women is at the heart of all we do, if you don’t empower women economically, they won’t be empowered socially and politically” she explained.
She however said resources has been limited and a concern, saying: “If we get more funding, we will take this project to other places, like Benue state that is currently in a conflict situation”.
Also speaking, Director General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu who was represented by the Director, Community Prevention Care Support Services, Mr. Alex Ogundipe, said that empowering them will restore their self esteem and confidence in themselves that they can do something about their situation.
Ogundipe said the programme was targeted at empowering 100 women who are vulnerable.
He said that “women who are in conflict situation. We see their challenges as capable of impairing them and making them more vulnerable to AIDS, GBV and violence I’m the family”.
According to him: “You do not need millions to empower people, start with what you have, we gave them skills, voice and dignity, and little seed money to start .We encourage Government, Agencies, NGO’s to see this programme as an opportunity to empower women.”
He encouraged the beneficiaries to apply skills they have acquired, so as to overcome lack.
Janet Lot, a beneficiary and Graduands expressed her gratitude for the support.
According to her, before the programme she was jobless but now she can make body products.
Another beneficiary simply identified as Helen Solomon, also expressed her gratitude, saying: “I am a widow and coupled with HIV, it was not funny. During the training I learnt catering.”
“I have even also trained women in my community, if the programme us extended it will go a long way. I want to thank NACA, especially the gender unit and the UN women,” she added.
Also responding, the National Coordinator, Association of Women Living with Aids in Nigeria(ASWHAN), Mrs. Asumpta Regina, who commended the free training offered, regretted that the project was only limited to two states. She pleaded with UN women to go deeper in other states.
Graduands were presented with certificates. The skills acquired include makeup, hairdressing, catering, making of body products among others.