When you consider the fact that the internet was not affected by COVID-19 pandemic that brought down the world, you would be thanking God for the wellconceived idea to establish the National Centre for Women Development, a Safe space specially set up for the training and retraining of women and girls on entrepreneurial and leadership skills. The idea for the establishment of this prestigious Centre was the innovative and visionary thinking of a woman of substance, the Legendary Maryam Babangida. From inception, through successive governments till present day leadership, the Centre has stood the test of time, even amongst numerous challenges.
Evidence abound that the Director-General of the Centre, Barr. Mrs. Mary Ekpere-Eta, has equally brought her ingenuity to bear, as she positioned her innovative strategies that have truly repositioned the Centre, for effective service delivery. Severally, Nigerians and the International community have commended her through various media for adding value to the Centre. Nigeria’s First Lady, Dr. Aisha Buhari commended her for repositioning the Centre, saying, “Ekpere-Eta has led the NCWD in vigorously carrying out its mandate, and raising the status of the Centre with improved global standard practices that have equally ignited passion and more interest among stakeholders in fighting the cause for women and girls at both the local, The NCWD and Skills Development for Youth Empowerment (SKYE) programme, collaboration to raise a band of highly skilled female artisans is another intervention that is bringing joy to the nation and keeping hopes alive. The Advanced Female Artisanship Programme is a partnership between the SKYE Programme funded by the German Government and implemented by GIZ and NCWD that has been driven with speed, with the intensive training and subsequent graduation of young women and girls across the nation, ranging from the ages of 1535 years, were selected, the already trained 230 young women and girls. The concluded training was aimed at strengthening their capacity for the award of Trade Test 2 and 1 Certification (NVOF2 and 3) in plumbing, and piping, air- condition and refrigerator repairs, masonry and tiling repairs. Other are generating sets repairs, Plaster of Paris (POP) installation.
“we are actually propelling more women into success in the agricultural sub-section of the economy even as I look
forward to the implementation of our enlarged training on lucrative sectors of the Agric Industry”.
Barr. Eta said. She reiterated further, “my vision is to create a good number of happy, confident and financially stable female farmers who will be leaders and Role Models. In their communities, inspiring others.
In recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the growth and wellbeing of women and girls, the Rural
Urban March Against Poverty (RUMAP), group of women farmers who were also beneficiaries of the just concluded 5-day residential training of women farmers from all the States of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, on ICT and Entrepreneurship, used the graduation ceremony to celebrate the DG for her
At the ceremony which coincided with the World Food Day that RUBAP seized the occasion to call for actions towards the future women need to build together, the DG noted that food and agriculture are essential part of the nation’s economy and response to crisis of any kind. She appreciated the well conceived idea of the organizers and assured them of continuous support from the federal government, noting that, the President’s wife Dr. Mrs. Aisha Buhari, who is always pleased to support laudable initiatives like the RUMAP dream for the world to celebrate women who produce, plant, harvest and transport the nation’s food, will surely support their dreams. She therefore, called on the public to celebrate the Food Heroes who, no matter the circumstances, continue to provide food to their communities and beyond-helping to grow, nourish and sustain our world. “This is indeed, a wonderful initiative that the Centre will surely embrace and begin to organize Food Exposition in future, to further encourage women farmers in all possible ways”, she said.
The women said they used the 2020 global celebration with the theme, “Grow, Nourish, Sustain, Together, to share
their stories with Barr. Mrs. Ekpre-Eta because of her transparent passion for changing the longstanding plight of the womenfolk. “She is a quintessential leader fighting gender-specific obstacles that have marginalized female farmers for too long”, said Mary Akwagiobe, Publicity Secretary of RUMAP.
She noted that, the DG has been working hard to empower women to feed the world and as such, celebrating the day in her honour was a demonstration of RUMAP’s interest to have women tilt towards working together to build the future that they need.
Participants undergoing ICT Training at the Centre national and international levels”. She stated enthusiastically
that, it is now that women and girls really have a Centre that is leaving up to the goals for which it was established.
Ekpere-Eta herself, puts it passionately, “I took up the affairs of the Centre as Director-General in 2017, with a burning desire to reform and reposition the Agency and with that drive, I pressed on to achieve my best. The result is what we see and hear, as staff who have been of tremendous support, tell the world and stakeholders alike, just
within three years of my leadership, about the giant strides that have been recorded on the journey so far”.
Reviving important programmes that sustain the Centre, making it act as “Centrical Force”, was the right steps in the right direction. From conducting research resulting in reliable data on women, establishing digital dashboard on Gender based violence in Nigeria, to hosting the induction ceremony of Nigerian Women Hall of Fame that came with a colourful and inspiring push that is igniting global interest in the agency.
Most interesting is the mainstreaming of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), into all of the training being conducted at the Centre, including skills acquisition programmes. So far, the Centre which has a classical
mobilization of rural women in particular, for enhanced productivity, has trained over 3000 participants in various skills like fashion design, garment making, hospitality and tourism, interior and outdoor decoration, catering, and craft. Others are, cake-baking and pastry, tie and dye, make-up and head gear fixing, beads and jewelry making.
“Most interesting is the mainstreaming of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), into all of the training being conducted at the Centre, including skills acquisition programmes.”
In all these, the Cross River State-born Ekpere-Eta, has ensured the total embrace and integration of Cross River women and girls into spaces that offer them opportunities and tools to set up their own businesses, alongside other Nigerian women and girls. The Cross River women have also been proud beneficiaries of the Centre’s partnership
with CBN under the Agricultural Small and Medium Enterprise’s Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) that was launched in 2018, to assist graduates in accessing facilities set to set up their businesses. It is interesting to know that last year, beneficiaries including several Cross Riverians, received start-up loans and equipment.