Women play a vital role in enriching their families’ and communities’ social and economic development. Desiring to enhance women’s contributions both locally and in society at large, the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria held two sessions in December 2023 to provide training to 200 women on “Fostering Social Cohesion through the Establishment of Women’s Cooperative Societies for Economic Empowerment.” The first session was held on December 8 in the Kagoro Chiefdom, and the second session was held on December 14 in Bukuru Town, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State.
During both sessions, women from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds were introduced to the principles, purpose, and benefits of cooperative societies, including the importance of collaboration for economic advancement. One hundred women attended each session, forming 5 distinct cooperatives comprising 20 women. Each cooperative elected a leader and chose a name for their society, creating a leadership structure and a sense of identity and unity aligned with GPF’s vision of service and inclusivity. To build sustainability, each cooperative scheduled ongoing meetings to ensure regular gatherings where women could continue their fellowship, exchange ideas, participate in joint decision-making, and pursue shared social and economic objectives. Seed money will also be provided to the cooperative societies to help ensure their continuity.
“This cooperative society training has truly united us as women in Kagoro Chiefdom. It goes beyond just economic empowerment; it’s about building a sisterhood that transcends our differences.”
Using case studies of women’s successful endeavors to inspire the attendees, the Women’s Cooperative Societies are a testament to advancing gender equality. Furthering the cause of empowering women to be catalysts for cooperative and inclusive efforts to improve social and economic development at all levels, they offer a concrete example of the strength of collaboration and trust among people of diverse backgrounds.
The women who attended the two sessions were enthusiastic about their training, its unifying effect, and its positive impact beyond economic empowerment. Attendee Zainab Umar said, “This cooperative society training has truly united us as women in Kagoro Chiefdom. It goes beyond just economic empowerment; it’s about building a sisterhood that transcends our differences.” Supporting this sentiment, fellow attendee Rose David commented, “Together, we are shaping a stronger, more resilient community.”
The session held in Bukuru Town, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State, was an extension of the ongoing partnership between GPF Nigeria and the Christian Rural and Urban Development Association of Nigeria (CRUDAN). The women at this session reiterated the positive impacts of the training. Helen Pam, chairing the newly formed Unity Women Cooperative Society, expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the knowledge gained from the training and for the rare and overdue opportunity for the women attendees to do something meaningful for themselves. Recognizing the transformative potential of the Women’s Cooperative Societies, she encouraged her fellow attendees to fully utilize the opportunity to be peace advocates in their communities.
Speaking at both sessions, Mr. Abdul Ahmed, senior program manager at GPF Nigeria, emphasized the extensive scope of the training beyond the economic empowerment of women. This was a common theme throughout the two sessions, highlighting the power women have when unified in cooperative societies to not only reduce poverty but to positively impact the social fabric of their families, communities, and society. As Kagoro Chiefdom attendee Wasila Adamu so succinctly stated, “It’s not just about us; it’s about creating a legacy for our community.”
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