Yiaga Africa Trains 40 female Community Organizers in Sokoto to improve female political participation
As part of efforts to increase the level of female political participation in Sokoto State, Yiaga Africa has concluded a four-day training to equip 40 young female civic activists, community organisers, and members of political parties in direct action organizing, leadership, advocacy, storytelling, and public narrative, coalition building, and community mobilization. This training termed ‘Community Organizing Training’ is part of the TurnUp Democracy project supported by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth, Development Office (FCDO) to equip them with relevant skills to engage stakeholders effectively and lead successful advocacy campaigns.
In her opening remarks, Yiaga Africa Director of Programs, Cynthia Mbamalu said that the community organization training is to inspire women in the state to their leadership roles and to inspire them to be all they can be.
“Women matter, and we can also build the necessary knowledge, relationships, and networks that will enable us to build the society we desire,” she said to the young organisers.
She used the examples of two historical women figures, Nana Asma’u Bint Shehu Usman Dan Fodio, the daughter of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio who founded the Sokoto Caliphate, and Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, a frontline women’s rights activist and politician in Northern Nigeria, to show how women can also be a force for change through effective organizing.
The participants were also provided with the context of women and youth political participation in Sokoto State by Dr. Murtala Ladan of the Department of Political Science at the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto. In his session, he provided statistics that highlighted the low political participation and representation of women and young people to enable them to understand the urgency of organizing to increase participation.
“Historically, women and young people are disempowered politically in our state, and this is apparent in their proportion in government, with impact on governance and policymaking,” he said.
He identified the factors preventing youth political participation to include a heavily monetized political space, godfatherism in politics, political party structure and party delegate systems for nominations, and a lack of youth organization.
Over the four-day training, the participants were taken through sessions on finding their identity, organizing as a leadership practice, how to mobilize shared values, and how to build power through relationships. Other sessions focused on how to build leadership teams for advocacy campaigns and how to use storytelling and public narratives to mobilise people to action and create a link between how things are and how they will want them to be.
On the opening day of the training, two alumnae of the Community Organizing Training which took place in March in Sokoto, Rashida Abubakar and Farida Muhammad, shared experiences on community organising and how they have been applying the learnings from the training to their work. They spoke on their motivations for participating in the training, as well as what stood out for them during the training, singling out how the session on identity helped them to get in tune with their identity and who they wanted to be.
“My advice to you is to never give up in striving towards your goal. Also, do not underestimate the importance of advocacy visits to key stakeholders in whatever community you are working in,” said Rashida.
“Be determined. Participation is not only by vying for political positions; it includes electing desired representatives as well,” Farida advised the participants.
There was also a session that reflected on social movements and organizing in Nigeria, using the examples of the Not Too Young To Run Movement and the #BringBackOurGIrls campaign. These examples highlighted how all the different elements of organizing were put into practice, and questions from the participants provided deeper insight and clarifications on the organizing strategies and tactics employed.
The participants were also put into groups and tasked on the third day with picking a group name, and slogan and developing an advocacy campaign plan that focused on strategy, timeline, and stakeholder mapping.
They presented their mock advocacy campaign plans and received invaluable feedback from their colleagues and the facilitators. This simulated real-world experience on how they can apply the learnings from the training to their work as activists and organisers.
The Yiaga Africa team and the participants also paid an advocacy visit to the Wazirin Sokoto, HRH Professor Sambo Wali Junaidu who offered words of encouragement to the team and the participants. He encouraged them to be steadfast as they push to break glass ceilings for women's participation in politics in Sokoto State and Nigeria.
The Community Organizing Training is an initiative of Yiaga Africa under its Turn Up Democracy project which is supported by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) aimed at empowering citizens with information and tools for civic engagement, thereby enhancing the quality of their participation in democratic processes at all levels.