Mrs. Lilian Abang is a resident of Esuk Utan, a community notorious for the high prevalence of Gender Based Violence and other discriminatory practices against women in Calabar Municipality of Cross River State. Mrs. Lilian, though educated, lives in the community and sees firsthand how vulnerable women and girls in the community are.
With little or no knowledge of how to change the narrative, Lilian watched as things head for the worse. Through the Women’s Voice and Leadership Nigeria (WVL-N) project, Lilian was trained by Child Care and Adult Protection Initiative (CCAPI) a partner on the project in Cross River as a Peer Educator and was regularly mentored on how to impact the knowledge of other women in her community.
Horned with this knowledge, she organized the women in Esuk Utan to form a Peer Education group where they could consolidate their voices to speak against harmful and discriminatory practices in the community. The Peer Education group formed by Lilian with over 40 members has grown strong and is now making a positive impact in the community.
Today, the group is now one of the champions against rape, ill- traditional practices, and other forms of gender-based violence in the Esuk Utan community in Calabar, women of this community now know their rights and how to manage their lives.
“We want to use our voices to fight for ourselves and other women in this community. As more women are trained, we would be able to protect our daughters.” Lilian said
To eradicate women’s vulnerability and reduce over-dependence on their partners, the women of the Esuk Utan community formed a Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA), an initiative that enables women to create and build wealth empowering them to be economically and physically stable and prevent future vulnerabilities caused by poverty.
“Looking back at the period before the WVL-N project came and now I can proudly say that incidences of GBV, especially rape and domestic violence, have drastically reduced and the consciousness and awareness of women created through the Peer Education.” a member of the Peer education group said.
It is expected that in the next two years, with the help of the Peer Education group, GBV cases are expected to be reduced by 80% as more than 100 households are economically empowered.
This, among many other stories, is how Peer Group Education is impacting the lives of women at the community level, building their confidence, and giving them a voice to speak up against ill practices that affect them.