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IWD: CLP Empowers Grassroot Women To Fight Against Gender-Based Violence

For over three decades now, Community Life Project has been training and supporting grassroots women to be independent, enhancing their self-esteem, and enabling them to lead advocacy against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and take action against different forms of gender inequalities and other challenges facing women at the grassroots level. To mark 2024 International Women’s Day, CLP hosted the grassroots women to discuss the challenges facing women in relationships, the factors responsible for these challenges, and the solutions to solve identified challenges.

The dialogue, which had 30 women in attendance whom CLP had been working with since over two decades included members of grassroots organisations, including the Nigerian Association of Hairdressers and Cosmetologists (NASHCO), Nigerian Union of Tailors (NUT) Community Development Association (CDA), Association of Tie & Dye, Association of Hat Makers, petty traders, CDA soap makers, pepper grinders, and representatives of the Iyaloja of Aswani Market.

Celine Osukwu, CLP programme officer, explained that what inspired CLP to hold this dialogue on IWD was the plethora of reports CLP received about domestic violence against women in their relationships, leading to grievous harm to the victim and sometimes even death. These reports were received from leaders of grassroots groups that are partners of CLP in Lagos state.

She said victims are mostly women and girls in families and communities as a result of male chauvinism and domination; adding that there is an urgent need to support grassroots women to overcome the challenges and find solutions. 

Grassroots women brainstorming on challenges women face in relationships and what to do about it


The women shared heart-wrenching experiences of challenges they face in their relationships and, worst still, from their intimate partners. One of the participants, Mrs. Mary Matanmi, shared a story of a young lady who faced financial abuse and abandonment by her husband. As a result, she became traumatised and battled with depression leading to other health issues until her elder sister accommodated her and took care of her. Despite this situation, the family members insisted that she should go back to her husband but the elder sister declined, noting that it is better to be alive than to stay in an unhealthy marriage.

The major challenges the participants highlighted that women face in relationships include infidelity leading to polygamous homes, financial problems, lack of trust and insecurity, unstable relationships, financial problems, and lack of respect, sudden change of character in marriages, hot tempers, interference from in-laws, husbands exhibiting abusive behaviour, husbands not providing for the family, young widows training children without support from the husband’s family, abandonment of women with children, men not allowing women to work, pressure on women to conceive and bear more children, lack of income for full-time housewives, and instances of abuse within marriages such as cursing, beating, and rape.

The solutions identified in the brainstorming include expressing voice and speaking out, ensuring equitable property rights, financial independence for women,  socialising the boy and the girl child to take responsibility, greater assertiveness and leadership role for women in relationships.

Cross-section of the grassroots women at the dialogue


Another group of grassroots women at the dialogue


I have been active in giving counselling services to newly married couples and relatively old couples, and over the years, the CLP has offered empowerment training to grassroots communities. We boost their knowledge of rights and respect for one another, build self-confidence in individuals, and constantly give material support to individuals and families, to help them boost their income for independent living. We also carry out sensitisation workshops on GBV to faith-based and artisan groups and also partner with other civil society organisations and agencies in campaign activities, advocating for laws to eliminate GBV in Nigeria,” she noted.

She, however, concluded that the objective of organising the workshop was to create an avenue where grassroots women come together to share their challenges without fear or intimidation, raise questions, learn from other women’s experiences, and adapt to the suggested solutions.

Deaconess Oyewole Oyewumi, Isolo Local Government Chairperson of Lagos State Council of Tradesmen and Artisans (LASCOTA) expressed her happiness over the workshop, affirming that CLP has saved many lives from domestic violence and has conserved many marriages from disruption. Through the training and capacity building she received from CLP, she has been utilising the knowledge to overcome any problem before her in her relationship and she has served as encouragement for other women to be self-reliant. She enlightened women on how to relate with their husbands and children and she also goes to schools to train students against GBV.

We train women in our organisation. We should be close to women. This kind of program should be organised from time to time because many women don’t know their rights and that is why they see domestic violence as a normal thing. Lack of money from the husband can make a woman disrespect women and can lead to domestic violence,” she said.

Mrs. Mary Matanmi, a State leader in Lagos State for the Nigerian Association of Hairdressers and Cosmetologists (NASHCO) also expressed her satisfaction over the issue, noting that she gained boldness and self-esteem to be able to face all obstacles over 20 years now she has been learning from CLP initiatives. She added that they encourage themselves in their organisation and invite people to train them on how to be independent.

We should take bold steps and learn how to speak out. I gained courage from CLP over 20 years ago when we were trained on self-esteem. In our association, we have started training our members to speak out if they are experiencing domestic violence in their marriage because CLP’s door is open 24/7 to settle issues in marriage. Many people will carry their problems to me and I would use the knowledge I have gained from CLP over the years to settle them amicably. Some cannot voice out and this CLP program made me live long and I have also saved the lives of many people by utilizing the knowledge I have gained so far,” she explained.

The participants are committed to going back to their community to begin to address these issues of GBV against women in their respective associations and communities. The initiative held by CLP on IWD has helped to nurture more female champions and advocates of the rights of women against GBV in society.