Women in the Niger delta region of Nigeria for a very long time have been neglected by their various state governments and interventionist agencies notably the Niger delta Development Commission (NNDC) and other intervention agencies.
This attitude was encouraged by the fact that culturally, women in the region are not as loud and militant in nature as their male counterparts. This explains why one is not likely going to see pictures of women among the militants’ group pervading the region.
However, this trend is gradually changing though silently without loudspeakers and fanfare. For years now numerous women in the region are specially targeted by various federal, state governmental agencies as well as private financial companies and foundations. Women have been supported financially by these agencies to startup businesses, increase their volume of trade, set up vocations, Increase and improve their farm harvest and products.
The NDDC appears to be at the forefront of this revolution of women empowerment. As the number one interventionist agency in the region, they have rolled out numerous programmes and activities aim at specifically benefitting women through the development of their human capital.
NDDC has tackled women unemployment and poverty through its various empowerment programmes specially tailored to suit them. Recently the commission revealed plans to train and equip women between the ages of 18 and 35 to acquire skills and expertise in craft making such as hat and bread making, juice processing, interior decoration and detergent making, cosmetology, horticulture, photography, tie and dye, hairdressing, tailoring and fashion designing, film making and drama, slippers and beads making and other forms of crafts and vocations.
To achieve desired results and make maximum impact, the commission is collaborating with stakeholders in the region to reach out to thousands of women in this region. Shell Petroleum and Development Company (SPDC) is one of such partners who have a track record of improving a lot of women in the region through various interventionist programmes.
This time around, Shell is training women participants in income generation to further boost Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the region.
Apart from the efforts of the NDDC and the International Oil Companies ( IOCs )In women empowerment, there are also many silent interventionists in women capital development. One of such company known as Standard Life Organisation (SLO) was recently unveiled in Abuja.SLO is one of the over 60 Microfinance institutions in Nigeria, but it was single out
SLO is one of the over 60 Microfinance institutions in Nigeria, but it was single out by the Central Bank of Nigeria in conjunction with IFAD-RUFIN and judged the best Microfinance institution in Rural Business Plans. The reason for the award was to recognize the enormous impact the organization made in providing finance to the poor rural women all over Nigeria including the Niger delta region.
The most significant accomplishment of SLO was to reached many villages and provide quasi- banking services to the rural women. Today many of they are involved in micro banking activities. The organization is said to have empowered over 100,000 rural women and these women are financially included in business and financial services in their states.
The states which have benefited greatly from the impact of the organization include Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Ebony, Ondo, Edo, Abia, Delta and the Imo State.
SLO is said to have disbursed over N 1 billion to these 100,000 women from January to December 2016. To ensure the effective utilization of the disbursed funds, the organization engaged the beneficiaries by training them on how to start up their business and manage them. Most of these training are done free of charge to enable them to build financial capacity as a result of exhibiting skills in doing business. This capacity building has taken many of them out of poverty and has greatly improved their standard of living.