The Centre for Women Studies and Intervention (CWSI) is a non-governmental, non-religious and non-profit-making organization registered in 1999 with its headquarters in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. CWSI is a project of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus (HHCJ).
The Congregation of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus is an indigenous Congregation of women religious, founded in Calabar (Nigeria) in 1931 by an Irish Sister of Charity, Mother Mary Charles Magdalen Walker, she came to Nigeria in 1923 in response to an answer to an appeal made by Bishop Joseph Shanahan C.S.Sp of Southern Nigeria between 1919 and 1922 to religious Congregations in Europe for Sisters to help in the training of women and children in Southern Nigeria. An article published in Times Philadelphia, of 14th January 1930, testified:
“At Calabar, Nigeria, in the Efik country, Sister Magdalen has worked wonders among the women and girls………”
Today the members of this religious Congregation, numbering about 700 Sisters, work in many countries such as; Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Sierra-Leone, Cameroon, Kenya, Europe, The Caribbean, Canada and the United States of America.
It is in continuation of the work started by their foundress and in answer to the call of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, to religious communities to carry out new apostolates according to the signs of the times, that the Sisters have embarked on this apostolate of empowering women and the girl-child as well as educating them on their dignity and fundamental human rights.
The Centre for Women Studies and Intervention is an organisation which envisions women empowered, liberated and active in the creation of a better world.
CWSI, propelled by faith in the Creator of all beings, is committed to uphold the dignity of women through conscientisation and empowerment.
Areas of Activity
* Gender and women empowerment
* Democratic good governance
* Reproductive Rights
* Social and Economic Rights
The goal of the CWSI is the holistic empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality.
Human Rights Education and Gender Training Workshops for Grassroots Women and Men
The first activity undertaken by CWSI was a series of Human Rights Training and Gender Awareness Workshops for seven Gwari communities of the Abuja Municipal Area Council between October 1999 and May 2000.
Between 2001 and 2008, CWSI successfully organized TOT workshops on Human Rights education for women and gender sensitization workshops for men in various communities in the following States: Niger, Cross River, Kogi, AkwaIbom, Delta, Plateau, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi and Rivers States respectively
Human Rights Education for Women Religious
Between 2001 to 2008, CWSI carried out Human Rights Education workshops for the Women Religious of the Roman Catholic Church in the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Abuja, Benin, Calabar, Ibadan, Jos, Kaduna, Lagos, Onitsha and Owerri. It also organized a workshop for Major Superiors (Male and Female) of the different Congregations in Nigeria.
Social and Economic Empowerment Programmes
In 2003, the Skills Acquisition arm of the Ancilla Care Skills Acquisition Centre, an initiative of CWSI, was set up in Lugbe (a satellite town of Abuja) with funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters and the American Embassy. There, girls who were unable to further their education beyond secondary school level and who would otherwise remain unemployed were given computer training to enable them have a gainful means of employment. It is our hope that other trades such as Fashion Designing, Hair Dressing and Cookery would be added as the Centre grows. Unfortunately, this programme has been put on hold because the Centre could not cope with the high cost of running the project.
A Social and Economic Empowerment programme was organized for the Women and Men in Bamishi Village (Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria). Sequel to the Human Rights Training workshop organised for them, two boreholes were sunk to help ease the hardship of access to potable water in the community, the burden of which hitherto had rested squarely on the women. Milling machines were provided to help generate income for the women as well.
Group Formation / Animation
In 2009, in order to institutionalize the work CWSI is doing in the various States, and to provide a more lasting solution to the needs of the resource poor especially women, CWSI encouraged the beneficiaries to form themselves into groups for easy access to micro finance outlets and other forms of assistance from the government. At present, we have eight (8) project groups in some States of our project coverage areas.
Paralegal Training Workshops for Women
CWSI since its inception, organizes paralegal training workshops for participants from different parts of the Country and subsequently has set up fifteen (15) Legal Aid Clinics in five States of the federation. The activities of the Paralegal officers have helped to provide quick access to justice pro bono for rural women who would otherwise have been deprived of this benefit and unable to afford the costs of proper litigation. This has also helped promote peaceful living in various communities in the country. There are currently over 120 paralegals trained and only fifteen are employed in five states due to lack of fund. However CWSI is making plans towards absorbing another five (5) paralegals before the end of 2010. Those who have not been included on CWSI’s pay roll are working on voluntary bases
The aim of this programme is to train people who are not lawyers in the basic knowledge of the law so as to be able to solve problems within their limits in their various communities.
Strategic Planning Workshop
In other to evaluate our activities after five years, CWSI carried out a Strategic Planning workshop in November 2004 to reposition it for greater effectiveness for the future. In 2010 another Strategic Workshop has taken place. This new Strategic workshop examined past activities to determine what is relevant in the present situation, while possibility of new grounds were explored, the final draft will be a publication of this manual.
Grassroots Mobilization on Issues of Violence Against Women
In September of 2002, in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Abuja, CWSI organized a Grassroots Mobilization Campaign on “Issues of Violence Against Women in the Abuja Municipal Area Council.” It was a programme of the Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Women (LACVAW) to which CWSI belongs.
CWSI has started mobilizing women towards effective 2011electoral participation by organizing series of empowerment workshops to build their capacity in the 2011 general elections. This action has taken place in Cross River State, Delta State, Kogi State and Niger State.
Affirmative Action for Women/Advocacy for Women’s Rights
With support from the Open Society Initiatives for West Africa (OSIWA), CWSI, between May and November 2003, carried out series of civic education workshops as well as TV and Radio discussion programmes on Affirmative Action for Women in the Zone “B” Senatorial district of Niger State, Nigeria. These were followed by advocacy visits to selected traditional rulers in the project coverage area. CWSI also carried out Advocacy Training Workshop for the women of Zone “A” Senatorial District of Niger State in July of 2005.
Women Awake for Sustainable Action
With support from the Joint Donor Basket Fund (JDBF): UNDP, EU, DFID, CIDA and UNIFEM, CWSI carried out activities on promoting and monitoring gender participation and action in the 2007 general elections.
The project was implemented in the seven States of the Zone which are: Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara. The design of the initiative was predicated on the lopsided representation of the female gender in development and governance space. To this extent, the concept WASA was borne to stimulate greater women participation and involvement in the 2007 Nigeria General Elections and beyond.
The book “Gender Dynamics in Nigerian Politics: a Report of Gender observation in 2007 General Election in Northwest Geo-political Zone of Nigeria” was presented to the public in May of 2008. It is the report of the gender observation component of the project. We hope that this book will help to educate the citizenry and help the politicians to become more gender sensitive and responsive.
Delimitation of Electoral Constituencies in Nigeria and Women in Politics
In February of 2009, with support from Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), CWSI organized a workshop on Delimitation of Electoral Constituencies in Nigeria and Women in Politics for women politicians from some of the States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Strength in Network for Women in Politics
In March of 2009, with support from the Global Fund for Women and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), CWSI carried out another workshop on Strength in Network for Women in Politics for women politicians from the thirty six States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
In May and September 2006 CWSI, carried out a research in Delta and Cross River States to develop an insight into some harmful traditional practices carried out on women. This was sponsored by Heinrich Boll Foundation. In like manner, CWSI at the time of this report is researching on “Harmful Traditional Practices; Impact and Implications on women development.” sponsored by MacArthur Foundation and “Root Causes of Gender Based Violence” sponsored by United Nations Development Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). They are running concurrently in the following States; Imo and Cross River for the former AkwaIbom and Abia, for the later respectively.
Creating Awareness on the National Gender Policy and Voters’ Education
In 2011, with support from UNDP, CWSI carried out a project titled “Creating Awareness onthe National Gender Policy and Voters’ Education In the Federal Capital territory (FCT), Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau and Niger states of North Central Nigeria Towards the 2011 General Elections”
Engendering Programme through Capacity Building in the Church
In 2012, with support from Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) CWSI carried out a project tagged “Engendering Programme through Capacity Building in the Church.” This project was aimed at establishing a well gender mainstreamed policy for CAFOD and its partners as a mainstay towards effective achievement of organizational outcome. The intervention also tried to expand the scope of employing appropriate advocacy tools and making data available for effective, positive policy and attitudinal change, while ensuring appropriate gender mainstreaming in every aspect of development for CAFOD and its partners.