Building a Movement of Civil Society Leaders to Advance Gender Equity and Social Justice in Nigeria

By Theresa Kaka Effa, Rise Up Nigeria Country Director

A second cohort of 20 civil society leaders from Nigeria gained new skills, knowledge, and connections through Rise Up’s intensive seven-day Leadership and Advocacy Accelerator in November 2018.

In November, Rise Up held an intensive seven-day Leadership and Advocacy Accelerator workshop for a second cohort of 20 civil society leaders from Kaduna and Lagos states in Nigeria. These leaders are passionate about improving girls’ education, ending violence against women and girls, advancing women’s economic empowerment, and improving sexual and reproductive health and rights.

During the Accelerator workshop, these new Rise Up leaders gained knowledge and skills on advocacy, leadership, human rights, political processes, alliance building, resource mobilization, communications, and safety for advocates. We discussed the situation for women and girls in Nigeria through engaging and interactive games, case studies, and small group exercises. I witnessed leaders begin to understand the stark realities most women and girls face in accessing education, health, employment, and many other opportunities, and how these women cannot reach their full potential unless we take action to address these issues.

For most of these leaders, this was the first time they were exposed to such in-depth leadership and advocacy training. They all agreed that they had never experienced a hands-on training of this kind and that they were able to really grow in their knowledge and skills throughout the week. One leader summed up her experience at the workshop, “There was no dull moment during this workshop. I have learnt a lot for a lifetime; I now know that advocacy is key to sustainable change much more than service delivery.”

It was gratifying to hear that the training further inspired these leaders to do more for their communities. By the end of the workshop they had set up a Whatsapp group chat and were sharing resources related to their work and initiated discussions on leveraging their individual and organizational skills and establishing broad alliances to enhance their advocacy efforts.  

These newly graduated leaders will work closely with the first cohort of 20 Nigeria Rise Up leaders that we trained earlier this year, in April 2018. Together these 40 leaders are building a movement to advance gender equity and social justice across all of Nigeria.