Horizontal Leadership Model Spreads in Nigeria

May 9, 2008

May 2007: WLP Nigeria/BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights recently convened two National Leadership Institutes – one for community-based organizations in the northern, Muslim-majority state of Kaduna in Hausa from March 27-30, 2007 and the second for community-based organizations from May 21-24, 2007 in Akure, Nigeria.

Hausa Institute: Twenty four women from six zones across Nigeria participated. At the end of the training, participants said they will be able to pass on the knowledge and skills they gained from the Institute to other members of organizations and to members of their communities to enable grassroots women in northern Nigeria to become more fully empowered and enabled to access their rights and assume leadership and decision-making positions.

In Hausa, two different words refer to a leader or leadership. The first word, shugabanci, is more popular and refers to authoritarian leadership. The second word, jagoranci, refers to horizontal leadership. At the beginning, most of the participants felt that the first definition of leadership was more significant while the second definition only refers to someone who directs others but does not have the power to actually lead. At the end of the Institute, after much debate, participants came to the decision that leadership was not the ability to impose one’s desires on others, but rather to lead the people to a shared vision of the world we wish to create.

Participants created three advocacy campaigns during the Institute, including a campaign against the trafficking of young girls, a campaign against street hawking by girls, and a campaign for improved health care facilities for pregnant women.

Awa,* a pharmacist, said she was going to work to improve the lives of women in her community by bringing together the women from the patent and proprietary medicine dealers association (an association of which she is a part) to find ways in which they could obtain more subsidized drugs for women in her community.

Akure Institute: At the Akure Institute, participants wrote a communiqué to address issues of women’s rights and leadership, agreeing about the importance of domesticating CEDAW, and the need for women’s groups to partner for change and work collectively to ensure greater female participation in the new political dispensation. The immediate outcome of the Akure Institute was the formation of an electronic mailing list for all participants. This will enable them to further network and sustain the initiative they collectively agreed to partake in to promote women’s leadership and active participation in decision making within their communities.

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