How U.S.-Based Group Brightens The Future Of Nigerian Women

Ten years after some Nigerian women abroad under the auspices of Nigeria Women in Atlanta Georgia (NWAG) came together with a mission to mission to alleviate the sufferings of many marginalised women in Nigeria and by extension, empower them to adequately contribute their quota to national development, the impact of their activities have truly been felt by their target group writes LAOLU ADEYEMI. THE discrimination against the credibility and competences of women, especially in the corridors of power, is an age-long battle. Unlike in the developed nations, where the social bias has begun to abate, countries like Nigeria are still neck deep in it. The culture of seeing women as inferior creatures regardless of their education, exposure and etiquette, among other virtues is still prevalent in the country.

Fortunately enough, the era of globalisation has exposed the pedigree of countless women of capability, hence the gradual failing of the marginalisation of women in the country.

However, owing to many factors ranging from infrastructure, political configuration and religious synergism, among others, Nigeria is still regarded as one of the countries that under utilise women’s potentials.

To bring this to an end, some Nigerian women abroad, under the auspices of the Nigeria Women In Atlanta Georgia (NWAG) came together 10 years ago to stand against the anomaly.

With the mission to alleviate the sufferings of many marginalised Nigerian women and by extension, empower them to adequately contribute their quota to national development, NWAG had started in low key but little did the pioneers know that it would grow into reckoning and further serve as a medium to reach the less privileged. It has today achieved a notable stand both in Nigeria and in the Diaspora.

According to the Country Representative of the organisation in Nigeria, Mrs Agatha Nnaji, no fewer than 236 scholarships have been awarded to female students from 30 states in Nigerian universities. She also revealed that more than 20 scholarships have been awarded to college-bound Nigerian youths in Georgia while $750,000 worth of medical equipment has been donated in collaboration with Medshare International to nine states in Nigeria and another $25,000 donated to 10 orphanages in Nigeria.

“We have once championed the HIV/AIDS awareness campaign and sometimes gave support to Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF). NWAG has also distributed blood pressure cuffs to 15 states and donated syringes to Boltless Hospital, Ilupeju, Lagos.

“To balance the equilibrium, we have equally contributed our quota in the United States of America, where we are based. We awarded 24 one-time scholarships to qualified high school seniors in Atlanta, Georgia towards college, supported Southside Medical Center, Sickle Cell Foundation, International Women’s House, participated in the Hosea Feed the Hungry, MedShare International and contributed to the Atlanta Community Food Bank,” she said.

Nnaji added: “NWAG supported Mercy Foundation-Medical Mission in Nigeria, Katrina Victims, Carter Center Guinea Worm Eradication Program, Haiti Earthquake Victims and organises annual summer enrichment and educational programme for youths and children in the Atlanta Metro area (WAZOBIA Sunfest). We have showcased the Nigerian culture by participating for the first time in the 2009 National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, from August 1to 3 and conducted outreach to schools in the Metro Atlanta area to educate students about the cultural heritage of Nigeria and Africa as a whole.”

For Nnaji, empowerment is a long range ideal. She said: “My group have used the instruments of scholarships for education and medical supplies to improve health care and give support to orphanages with a view to empower young women, children and the youth. In furtherance of our campaign to emancipate women from marginalisation, NWAG usually gives recognition to any woman of substance doing very well in her immediate society and in the country by making her Woman of Valour, which numbers eight at the moment.”

Nnaji listed the beneficiaries to include the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs Abimbola Fashola (current honouree); Mrs Oluwatoyin Saraki (2008); Mrs Maryam Chioma (2007) Prof. Dora Akunyili (2006), Mrs Eki Igbinedon (2005); Mercy Obeime (2004); Mrs Ezekwueche (2003) and Mrs Osonye Tess Onwueme (2002).

Speaking with The Guardian some beneficiaries of the NWAG scholarship extolled the objectives of the organisation and lauded its leadership for sticking to the ideals for which it was founded.

One of the recipients of the scholarship, Chioma Umendubisi confirmed that she received the scholarship when her hope was almost lost. Umendubisi, a final year student of Health Information Management at the Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka said the NWAG scholarship came at the time she needed it most, when she lost her father.

Sandra Ananaba, an indigene of Abia State who also benefited from the NWAG scheme in 2009 told The Guardian that she received N40, 000 from the organisation. The final year student of law at the River State University of Technology, Port Harcourt, said: “I have been empowered and will also ensure that I empower others in the nearest future.”

Precious Hoggan, a final year student of law at the University of Abuja and Gloria Mfoneka, a 200 level student of Linguistic at the University of Uyo also confirmed to The Guardian that they benefited from the scheme and praised the organisation.

Founder of the organisation, Mrs. Dayo Keshi said NWAG dreams to cover the whole 36 states and increase the number of scholarship it awards per state.

On challenges faced by the organisation, Keshi said convincing prospective donors to buy into the vision of the organization and avail it of funds was a major challenge to them.

“It is always a challenge from year to year using volunteers because we cannot afford to hire a paid administrative assistant. In Nigeria, an additional problem is that we are yet to develop a culture of charitable giving outside of one’s extended family and community.”

Bemoaning the rate at which many fake non-governmental organisations masquerade themselves in the country, Keshi noted that they were making the task of raising money even harder because prospective donors cannot be sure where their money would go. “NWAG, for example, already have a track record and it is easy to verify what we have accomplished and check with our beneficiaries for our authenticity,” she said.



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