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LACK OF FUNDS, NOT SKILLS, HINDER WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN RURAL AFRICA





Tosin Taiwo is the founder of Street2School, an education-centric, non-profit organisation that provides education opportunity to children in under-served communities. A voracious social worker and volunteer, Tosin’s work is deep rooted in rural communities where she helps to provide skills and empowerment in rural communities. This experience has enabled her to understand the peculiar need and challenges of out-of-school children and women in rural areas. At present, she coordinates a mentoring program for High School girls in rural communities. Rural reporters caught up her and asked her on her work on women empowerment in rural communities and here is what she has to say:  

 
From your experience (s) what are some of the challenges faced by these women and how can these problems be addressed? Tosin: Our work with vulnerable women began some 2 years ago when we realised the need to empower women, especially mothers of sponsored children. At our resource centre, we organise skill acquisition training program for women, thus far we have trained about 60 women in soap making skills, art of machine knitting, bead making, interior decorations and computer skills. From my experience, I realised that the major challenge faced by these women in rural area is not lack of skills nor ability, but poor access to funding. Government truly need to come up with loan schemes for women in under developed communities. It would help build a stronger family, a stronger nation. It would foster business growth and development because when you invest in a woman, she feeds herself, her family, her community and her nation. Women need every support and it would not be a bad idea if every local government area operates loan scheme for entrepreneur women.  
 
Will you say that women are taking up more leadership roles in their community (ies)? Tosin: The statistics of women taking leadership roles in the community is still so insignificant, however, change is gradual. I believe we are in the change process already. The participation of women in leadership positions in the community is budding up, because there is an increase in awareness of women’s right and what the constitution says about women participation. In the community where we serve, we have women who co-direct community affairs and landlord/tenant development initiatives. We have women who are interested in competing at the next elections.  As I said earlier, change is gradual, and we are hoping that more women would surmount those factors that are responsible for low participation. Cultural beliefs, Religious Doctrines, Women’s Misconception of Politics, Gender Roles etc are some of the identified factors. We hope for change. . –


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