WOWICCN/WCC: Training and Advocating for the Rights of Women and Girls in the Society

Women Wing of Christian Council of Nigeria (WOWICCN) in collaboration with World Council of Churches (WCC) organised a two day Human Rights Advocacy Training for Women and Girls today in Abuja.

Addressing the participants on the occasion, Rev Dr Mrs. Uzoaku Juliana Williams, National President Women Wing of Christian Council of Nigeria (WOWICCN), said the Christian Council of Nigeria is the foremost ecumenical body in Nigeria founded in 1929 and, ever since, has been instrumental in keeping in united fellowship over 16 member Churches and engaging them in advocacy, issues of justice, peace and conflict resolution amongst many other Projects. CCN is also collaborating with various bodies including UNICEF, in her Spotlight Initiative on Ending Violence against Women, Children and Girls.

According to her, “ The Women Wing of CCN has direct oversight of Women and Girls. It has demonstrated high commitment to building up women and girls in Nigeria and achieving gender justice. This, amongst others, is the reason we are so grateful to the WCC for funding this training and standing with us in continuing this struggle for human rights. “

In her words:
“This training is relevant, therefore, in empowering women and girls to uphold their rights amidst the political and civil walls restricting their personhood and defacing their relevance in the society. I believe that this workshop will make inroads and open opportunities for women and girls to gain deeper interest and sustain their orientation towards the sustenance of their rights in Nigeria.

“Women and girls have demonstrated great resilience in the face of stigmatisation and abuse, and in such issues as early marriage, discrimination on job posting and even ordination into church ministry. While it may be argued that it is the duty of women and girls to support and encourage themselves to brace up to this challenge such systemic support as that given by the WCC becomes indispensable.

“Human Rights violation stems from gender-based discrimination and gender inequality. In Nigeria, 36 percent of ever-married women have experienced spousal physical, sexual, or emotional violence (NDHS 2018), and 55 percent of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence have never sought help to stop the violence. Evidence from the Violence against Children (VAC) survey (NPOPC, 2014) indicates that girls in Nigeria experience physical violence (one in five), sexual violence (one in four), and emotional violence (one in six). Currently, 43% of girls were married before age of 18, while 20% of women and girls ages 15-49 have undergone female genital mutilation (NDHS 2018). “

In his speech, the President of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Most Rev. Dr. Benebo Gubars Fubara-Manuel, said that we live in a world in which there seems to be local and global efforts to deny the integrity of humankind on this earth. Even the Churches that speak of the creation of humankind in God’s image and likeness do not sufficiently take this declaration to its logical conclusion. More so, when the Churches and systems of our world affirm the equality of men and women, they create policies and practical processes that deny or negate this claim. As such, many women and girls grow up in environments in which it is difficult to claim that we have been well informed about our fundamental human rights. Domestic, cultural, ecclesiastical and political systems influenced by traditional patriarchal values can often hardly see that the fundamental rights of many are denied, especially those of women and girls.

Rev. Benebo also said that a workshop like this, anchored by the Women Wing of the Christian Council of Nigeria and sponsored by the World Council of Churches brings, therefore, an apt emphasis into the knowledge of all, especially women and girls. This emphasis is particular important because it is, ultimately, to the extent to which we affirm the necessity of this workshop that the purpose intended will be realized.

According to him, the pursuit of justice is the pursuit of that which is right for our fellow human beings, communities, peoples, nations, etc. To do justice is to give to others the rights we would like to claim for ourselves. To do justice is to allow the due of our sisters and brothers not be denied, or downtrodden or neglected. Our advocacy for women and girls and our training in this advocacy is surely a right step in the pursuit of justice.

“And there can be no denial that this is crucial in our setting today in Nigeria. Shamefully, it involves us all directly and indirectly. Many women and girls struggle to survive in spite of their enormous legal and human rights. The systems of the world that have attempted to affirm their rights have not affirmed them fairly or even sufficiently. Women are still struggling to be educated in many places. They are still being told that they cannot lead the religious communities because they are women, in spite of the fact that the church only survives on their account. They are still being told that a man can come to God just as he is but that they as women need additional qualifiers like head-ties and American hats to enter into God’s presence; or they are still being told that they must be free from their natural menstrual flow to enable them enter into God’s presence. They are still being abused by their parents and uncles and their pastors are telling them not to wash their dirty linen in public. Those who managed to cry out for help are being named unpatriotic or unsupportive of their families.”

“Many of us today are surviving on the shame and pain of those we have been abused from childhood, those under-age house-helps who gave up their future for ours, those mothers who suffered the abuse and rape of their husbands and their closest friends in order to find a space for us to be educated. Many of us indeed have been privileged from abusive settings. But today, we can repent and restitute by ensuring that our silence would not continue and that no one else is hurt by our inaction. To say NO to all this is to pursue justice; it is to love kindness; it is to humble ourselves before our God by allowing others also have their rightful place in God’s presence.”

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