Empowering Women in Traditional Cabinets: Transforming Communities

Traditionally overlooked, the pivotal role of Igbo women in the development of customary practices has been brought to the forefront through the Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL) project, a transformative initiative sponsored by Global Affairs Canada and supported by ActionAid. In Enugu State, Nigeria, women are breaking new ground and making a significant impact on their communities through their involvement in traditional cabinet councils.

Looking at Abor Udi L.G.A, in Enugu state, this group of resilient women stepped into traditional leadership space and ushered in a wave of positive changes: By firstly addressing their abandoned healthcare center, which was once a symbol of neglect, due to a lack of staff now stands as a reliable source of healthcare services for women and children. They went ahead to ensure transparency and accountability regarding electricity billing due to the initial representatives has been siphoning money off the community people with hopes of clearing the bills, on discovering this they appointed a woman to ensure bills are paid and on time, thereby lowering bills for community members and ensuring a more reliable supply of electricity. They also ensured timely payments to security agencies and their diligent execution of duties, even involved women as part of their security agents, and it has resulted in reduced crime and improved safety for the community.

Going to Ndeabor Aniri L.G.A of Enugu state, their women played a pivotal role in addressing prevalent of social issues, including reducing drug abuse among youths and combating the practice of taking wives without paying a bride price. These women were at forefront of promoting peace and development by advocating for road construction that enhances agricultural productivity and by contributing to the peace and land boundary committees, thereby creating a more peaceful environment.

Then in Enugu- Ezike Igbo North L.G.A, their women are multifaceted. They ensured every marital dispute found resolution, challenging traditional gender roles, fostering transparency and fairness in dispute outcomes. They embraced Peer to peer education among their community women and even trained their youths on little skill like shoe making, detergents, bakery and makeup, which 5 of them are already earning from it.

The Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL) project, with the support of Global Affairs Canada and ActionAid, has created a wave of empowerment and positive change, showing that gender-inclusive in decision-making benefits not only women but entire communities. These stories exemplify how the participation of women in traditional cabinets is transforming communities and paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive society.