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Niger Delta Women for Justice

Project Reports 2002





 Patriarchy, structural inequalities and deep-rooted prejudices continue to firmly entrench themselves in Nigerian society. In spite of ratification of promotion on women's rights, Nigerian women are still regarded as second class citizens.

 Women of the Niger Delta are subject to daily violence from the Nigerian State and multinational oil companies as well as in the domestic sphere. Women are plagued by religious and traditional practices that discriminate against them.

 The aim of the project is to create awareness amongst Niger Delta Women about their human and environmental rights and to significantly increase their capacity to challenge human rights violations by the Nigerian government and oil companies.


 1.                To create an awareness amongst women about their human and environmental rights.

 2.                To encourage women in building up their confidence within their community.

 3.                To address issues on custom and religious practices that work to keep women in bondage.

 4.                To educate women on how to publicize human rights abuses.


 The workshop started with an opening prayer by one of the participants.  This was followed by pair introduction of participants. After which participants talked about their expectations from the workshop.

 Their expectations included:-

 1.                To acquire acknowledge that will strengthen their organizations.

2.                To learn about women's rights.

3.                To learn how to address their problems

4.                To acquire skills that will help move their organization forward.

5.                To upgrade the organization

 Therefore, Ms Emem J. Okon, the NDWJ Programmes co-ordinator speaking through an interpreter Ms Unity Ekinabhari told the participants about Niger Delta Women for Justice (NDWJ) and their mission.  Then she discussed the objectives of the project. She proceeded in giving a lecture on women's right and violence against women.

 She said that women's rights are human rights.  And she listed out the various human rights as guaranteed by the constitution as follows:

 -                    right to life

-                    right to dignity of human person

-                    right to personal liberty

-                    right to fair hearing

-                    right to private and family life

-                    right to freedom of thought

-                    freedom of expression

-                    right to peaceful assembly

-                    right to freedom of movement

-                    freedom from discrimination

-                    right to acquire immovable property

The participants were asked if they have seen the Nigerian constitution before, they answered that they had no knowledge of what a constitution is neither have they seen one.

 Ms Okon explained that the constitution is a body of rules and regulations, which govern the rights, and duties of the citizens and the states. And that the constitution is the highest law of the land.  It protects the rights of everyone and sets up institutions to check abuse by authorities.

 Despite the provision of the constitution women are not enjoying their fundamental rights and freedoms.  The rights of women are being violated and abused everyday by certain acts of violence committed by other members of the society against women.

 Violence against women she said is any act of gender based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring on public or private life.

 She listed forms of violence against women as follows:

 -                    Domestic violence

-                    Emotional violence

-                    Sexual harassment

-                    Rape

-                    Trafficking

-                    Forced prostitution/marriage

-                    Widowhood rites

 The participants identified the following as the forms of emotional violence against wome according to they experience.

 -                    Abusive words

-                    refusal to eat food by husband

-                    extra marital affairs

-                    keeping malice

-                    cooking and eating alone

-                    total neglect

-                    drunkenness and carelessness

-                    selfishness

 Forms of sexual harassment identified include:

 -                    intimidation at working places

-                    rape

-                    male relatives demanding sexual favours from girls before giving school fees

 Participants admitted that because of poverty some parents forced their daughters/wards into prostitution and marriages in order to sustain the family economically. They  also identified widowhood rites as one of the common forms of violence against women in the community. One of the participants, a widow,  testified that she was asked to go back to her people by her deceased husband's relatives since she is not from their village but her own said she should go back to her husband's family. So she does not have a home. And she does not want to make noise about her case because she will be further ostracized from her people.

 Other topics covered by the training included women's political participation, gender and personal empowerment.

 It was discussed that the level of women's political participation is low because women can't cope with the violence that has characterised Nigerian politics.

 The economic power of women was also taken into consideration, the Otuokpoti women said women are not as wealthy as men and so cannot spend so much money on campaigns as men do.

 The women identified lying as a characteristics of politics.  They said women couldn't lie as their male counterpart because of the fear of God in them.  "men tell so much lies in order to gain votes.  And they disappear as soon as the elections are over".

 The participants also identified lack of information as one of the factors that impedes their participation in politics. Those of them who are members of political parties are relegated to the women's wing under the leadership of the women leader.  The women leader does not attend party caucus meeting.  So party decisions are taken without input from the women. Information about such decisions are relayed to them after major actions have been taken in the party.

 Under personal empowerment, we discussed behavior (personality,  attitudes character, mannerisms).  We talked about the following.

           -        choices

          -        ability to take decisions

          -        self esteem

          -        motivation

          -        challenging the status quo

          -        assertiveness

          -        aggressiveness

          -        passive

          -        passive aggressive

          -        accountability

          -        communication

          -        personal goals

The workshop was rounded up by the drafting of a communiqué.


 (1)     Emem J. Okon       -        Coordinator

(2)     Unity Ekinabhari    -        Project Officer (Bayelsa)

(3)     Rita Clifford          -        Workshop Assistant (Bayelsa)




 We, the women of the Niger Delta here gathered in Otuokpoti, Ogbia in Bayelsa State under the auspices of the Niger Delta Women for Justice having reviewed the situation of women in the Niger Delta note as follows:

 That through several years of exploitation by both the federal government of Nigeria and the multinational oil companies operating in the Nigeria Delta, the region is the most backward most neglected and most underdeveloped part of Nigeria.

 -                    That we the women of the Niger Delta suffer more directly from the impact of oil exploration and exploitation as we do not have anywhere else to go but stay put in the devastated environment and suffer the consequences of crude oil exploitation.

 -                    That we suffer doubly, as members of the Niger Delta Community and as women in-view of the above, we have resolved as fellows:

 -                    That the Niger Delta Women be empowered politically, socially and economically to ensure her enjoyment of her fundamental human rights.

 -                    That government should take measures to eliminate all forms of violence against women.

 -                    That Affirmative Action should be implemented to ensure full participation of women in decision-making process.

 -                    That we totally support all the declarations of the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta on resource control, self-determination and true federalism.


 -                    EMEM J. OKON - Niger Delta Women for Justice

-                    UNITY EKINABHARI   - Man and Water Survival Project





 The first consultative  meeting was held on the 22nd of July 2002 at Erema. There were 12 members of Egi women council, comrade the Ibegwura and NDWJ Program Coordinator, Emem J. Okon in attendance.

 The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the implementation of the Global Fund for Women funded project for Egi women council.

 The following activities were discussed one after the other:

 -                    Conference

-                    Adult Literacy Programme

-                    Micro Finance Project

 (1)             Conference: It was agreed that the conference shall be held on the 5th of August, 2002 at the Erema Civic Centre.  Time was fixed for 11.am. Participants were to be drawn from members of Egi women council, other women, and groups from Erema, and 2 women from each of the 16 neighboring communities.

 NDWJ was to produce invitation letters and hand them over the  EWC for distribution.  NDWJ was also to provide the banner, lunch and drinks and pay for the venue:

 We agreed to meet again on the 12th August 2002 after the conference.

 (2)            MICRO FINANCE

 The women were asked to pick an income generating activity that will be run and managed by them under the supervision of NDWJ.  The women decided on buying and hiring out of canopies, plastic chairs and generators.

 Their reason was that the items are in high demand as a result of a high rate of burial ceremonies, launchings in the communities in Egiland.  We agreed that NDWJ should purchase the following items for EWC:

 -                    6 canopies

-                    1 power generating set, 15.00KVA

-                    100 Plastic chairs


 It was agreed that the church in Erema will provide a learning centre for literacy Programme.  And that EWC will get 2 or 3 retired teachers within Erema village as instructors. NDWJ will be responsible for the instructors' allowance for 12 months.  Beneficiaries will contribute N50.00 every month to sustain the project at the expiration of the funding period.

 It was also agreed that while members of the EWC enjoy free registration for the programme other beneficiaries will pay N100 registration fee.

 A text message was sent to Jennifer, the NDWJ Vice President in Lagos concerning the proposed conference.  Her reaction was that the conference be postponed till she comes to Port Harcourt for her wedding on the 15th of August, 2002.  This information was relayed to the EWC and the conference was put on hold till now.

 On the 2nd and 5th October, 2002, the Progam Coordinator was again in Erema to meet with and take a new date for the conference.  But the EWC has been involved in a crisis that has resulted in a change of name for the organisation.  The organisation is now known as the Egi Women Congress.

  Some of them who were not present in the July meeting said they are not in agreement with the Canopy and Chairs business. NDWJ then decided to run a revolving loan scheme for individual members.  But there are not prospects that the women will pay back the loan since they have been made to believe that Sokari sent money to be shared among them.

 (I have decided to go ahead with the conference and Adult Literacy Program while the Micro Finance project activity will wait till next year.  We have up to April 2003 to conclude the project).

 On the 6th of November 2002, 2 members of the EWC Comrade Ibegwura the programme coordinator of NDWJ and Ms Susan Eyoka, a member of NDWJ met in Port Harcourt. The programme coordinator of NDWJ gave a report of her meeting with Teachers without Borders.  The EWC representative Ms Edna reported they have given out the contract for the chalk board, the renovation at the church building which will serve as the learning centre is almost completed.  And that the instructors have been picked.  But allowance is yet to be decided. We agreed that the instructors allowance must not be more than N3,000/month.

 NDWJ is producing registration forms and flyers to promote the literacy programme.

 Date for the conference was fixed for November 22, 2002.


 I had a meeting with Mr. Ralpael Oko, Country Coordinator, Teachers without Borders (TWB), in Port Harcourt on the 5th November, 2002.

 I presented the NDWJ Adult Literacy programme to him, after much deliberation, we agreed that:

 -                    TWB will train the instructors for the Literacy Programme in Egi

 -                    TWB will work with NDWJ to set up a Community Teaching and Learning Centre (CTLC) in Erema.

 -                    TWB will provide computers for the CTLC.

 -                    TWB and NDWJ will write a joint proposal for the sustenance of the project.

 -                    The curriculum shall include teachings on HIV/AIDS and computer literacy.

 -                    The Programme should encourage couple centred society and shall evolve into a Gender Equality Academy.

 -                    The community should provide the venue for the CTLC.


 Emem J. Okon

Programs Coordinator


NDWJ: 13 Agudama Street, D/Line

Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria

Phone: 234-84-236365, 0802-3090197


info@ndwj.org, anniebrisibe@yahoo.com, emem_o@yahoo.comsokariekine@yahoo.co.uk, zenefakwe@yahoo.co.uk




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