As part of efforts towards attaining the ActionAid Nigeria Women Voice and Leadership (WVL) program’s anticipated outcome of improving management and sustainability of local women’s rights organizations and enhancing advocacy and programming for gender equality in Nigeria, Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP), organized a two-day leadership training for 12 Community-Based Organization (CBOs) in Lagos State, who are ActionAid Nigeria WVL project partners.
Participants at the event were Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Mid-Level Managers of the CBOs drawn from the three senatorial zones of Lagos State.
The training, which was held on March 29th and 30th, and organized by WRAHP, the local women’s rights organization managing the Action-Nigeria CBO partners, focused on principles of effective leadership, self-leadership, developing and applying leadership skills, and conflict management.
The training also aimed, among other things; to strengthen the capacity of the 12 CEOs with skills in strategic leadership, strategies for managing generational diversity in the workplace, emotional intelligence, and improved management, as well as improvement of institutional capacities of the 12 CBOs.
Bose Ironsi, the Founder and Executive Director of WRAHP, managers of Ireti Resource Center,
told First News at the program that the whole essence of the program, which is being sponsored by Global Affairs Canada through ActionAid Nigeria, remained to build the capacity of the 12 women-led CBOs in several ways.
“This program is a five-year project and we are about to round off the fourth year. What we’re doing is building the capacity of the CBOs in so many things. This is because we believe that CBOs are very key in the development process. For development to get to the community people there’s the need to strengthen and enhance the capacity of CBOs to be able to achieve that.
“So, we’ve taken them on financial management, monitoring and evaluation, fundraising, resource mobilization, and many others,” she said.
On the expected results from the training, Ironsi said, “We are looking at having community leaders who are well informed, who understand what the development process should be, and who are also very inclusive and respect diversity at the community level.
“You know very well that as humans, we tend to discriminate against certain sets of people. So, if they don’t understand that leadership is about inclusiveness, about respect for diversity, they will be the ones sustaining the discrimination that happens within society.
“So, at the end of the five years of this project, we want to be sure that we have built and enhanced the capacity of leaders within the community, especially this group, who are capable of addressing issues within their communities.”
On what the project has been able to achieve in the past four years, Ironsi started with the impact it has made in her organization, WRAHP.
She said, “From my organization level, ActionAid Nigeria has been able to strengthen our capacity to manage other organizations. We’ve been able to build our structures. We’re now looking at stepping things up, not just these 12 CBOs in Lagos, but taking this project to different states of the federation. This is because having the same thing in different states is the critical thing we need if we must address issues of development at the community level and bridge the gap between the government and the people.”
Funmilayo Arowoogun, the National President of NECA’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women and one of the trainers at the event, bemoaned leadership in Nigeria.
According to her, “Nigeria leaders are not committed, they pay lip service to issues of leadership, especially on issues of women’s economic empowerment, the training of the girl-child, and youth development. These are the reason many youths are unemployed, and many women that have the capacity, because there is no ease of doing business, are struggling to make ends meet.”
On the WVL project, Arowoogun appreciated ActionAid Nigeria for training herself and others to be able to train CBOs.
She said, “What you don’t have you can’t give it. That’s why I appreciate ActionAid Nigeria for training us. After we were trained, at my organization, NECA’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women, I stepped what we learned down to the executive members and other women and they are doing well.
“Through the training, our leadership style has changed. We now have better knowledge. It has helped us to understand what power play is and so many other things that we didn’t know before. The leadership training changed our psyche and style of leadership even in the running of our private businesses.”
The NECA’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women President expressed hope that the CEOs of ActionAid Nigeria CBO partners, with the two days of leadership training, will be able to apply what they have learned in their organization for a better society.
Also adding her voice, Chibogu Obinwa, a woman leader who took the participants on different dynamics of managing generational diversity, expressed hope that with the training the participants would be able to tap into positive aspects of different generations as well as manage some of the challenges that come with working with the different generational gap.
According to her, the project by ActionAid Nigeria, championed by WRAHP, is a laudable one. “The participants should seize the opportunity to make a difference in their communities,” she added.
A participant and CEO of Ogo Oluwa Women Association, Eti-Osa LGA, Lagos State, Okeimosunmola Roseline, expressed her gratitude for what ActionAid Nigeria, through WRAHP has helped her organization to achieve in her community with the WVL project, funded by GAC.
She said, “What we do is, we pick grown-up girls, who are expected to have something they’re doing but don’t due to one problem or the other; we train them in skill acquisition, and through grants, we receive from ActionAid, we empower them after training them. For some of them, we give them loans without interest.
“To ensure they are successful, we employ the training we’ve been receiving from WRAHP to train them also. We equally monitor and follow up on them. Today, many of them are self-employed, doing well, and are relevant to society.