Women and children have always been considered the most vulnerable individuals in Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps.
As a result of this, the Every Woman-Every Child Innovation Marketplace Programme, an initiative focused on strengthening women and children, established the Digital Skills Empowerment programme, which offered entrepreneurial trainings to some of the women of reproductive age-group in the Malaysian Garden IDP Camp, Apo area in Abuja.
The Project Lead, Digital Skills Empowerment programme, Dr Adebolajo Adeyemo, disclosed that the innovation, which has a duration of 24 months, was instituted and funded by the Grand Challenge Canada, an arm of the Canadian government that funds projects to improve health worldwide, in partnership with the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Adeyemo explained that the entrepreneurial trainings would enable the women to produce goods that could be sold in marketplaces and the income realised could change the lifestyle of the women, lift them from poverty to a more comfortable life and afford them the opportunity to make the right decisions.
He noted, “The hypothesis is that because they have to rely on their husbands to give them money for everything they require, it means also that until their husbands say so they can’t pay for medical bills or pick up contraceptive techniques they may want to follow. Also because they have limited economic muscle, they have very poor ability to use their initiative to take decisions that would improve their health and that of their children, and follow up on such decisions.”
Adeyemo revealed that the programme was aimed at providing hands-on training which was put in digital form that could be viewed on digital devices such that the women trained could also train others by watching the videos and in the process produce valuable goods that could be sold to make income.
Apart from training, he revealed that the programme also offered health information on contraception and basic hygiene, among other tips, that could be viewed on and shared through the same digital format so they could get educated about their health in the process, adding that consultants were employed to provide the training in digital format and made available to the women.
He said, “In addition to that, we also created a Conscience Marketplace, meaning we want to help the women to sell their produce. So we don’t just want to train them, we also desire to get them avenues for the sale of what they are producing. We call it Conscience Marketplace because we aim to target people to purchase goods being produced by the women with the intention of helping those women.”
To achieve the aim of the programme, some of the IDP camps in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, were surveyed and one of them was picked from which about 100 women were selected and trained on how to make different items including crotchets, head bands, scented candles and organic soaps.
Adeyemo affirmed, “We also went ahead to provide a means of marketing the products by helping the women create mobile wallets so that the money would be transferred directly into their personal mobile wallets so that the money does not pass through middle men. They get direct benefits from the fruit of their labour. Apart from getting near instant remittance into their mobile wallets, the likelihood of the money going missing, being stolen or forcefully taken over by their husbands is reduced.”
The programme is targeted at women in IDP camps, who are often defenceless in the face of conflicts, and particularly at women of reproductive age-group because they are especially more vulnerable than the average woman, as such women are likely to have young children to look after, would want to be able to control their pregnancy rate and space out their pregnancies to give their bodies a chance to recover in-between.
Although the programme is currently in Abuja alone, Adeyemo expressed the hope that when transiting to a larger scale, women in other IDP camps would be identified and offered a similar lifeline.