Nigeria is a Federal system, with clear demarcations of authority between the Federating units (States) & the Centre. - fundamental implications for legislation and social cohesion - 3 legal regimes, - religious demography unknown Nigeria an amalgam, over 450 ethnicities defined by varied antecedents pre & post independence. - sharp diversities in culture, religion, language, governance systems & structures Constitutional freedoms and curtailments - strong links between basic fundamental rights and religion The Constitution in Section 38 (Constitution of the FRN 1999) provides for freedom of religion, including freedom to change one's religion or belief, and freedom to manifest and propagate one's religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance. The Constitution prohibits state and local governments from adopting an official religion; however the same Constitution in Sections 260 (1) and Section 275 (1) provides that states may elect to use Islamic (Shari'a) laws and courts. . The provisions of the Law guarantees ALL Nigerian equal right to freedom of religion. However, it is the enjoyment and benefits derivable from the rights that is curtailed for one sex over or even by the other sex. Curtailed benefits are found in the 3 predominant religions (Christianity, Islam and Traditional) a) Reduced opportunities for education, voice, political and religious leadership in all 3 major religions b) Women prohibited or discouraged from certain religious practices due to interpretations that are man based (an orthodox church like The Apostolic Church precludes women from attending Night vigils; some of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence prohibits women from going to mosques) c) Interpretations of religious laws/tenets/principles to further subjugate or discriminate against women (research findings under the IFL project) Actualize constitutional rights Remove inhibitions grounded in religious interpretations and social practices Create voice for women in private and public spaces Enhance access to justice for violations in all contexts Fulfill Nigeria’s obligations in international human and women’s rights statutes * Between 1999 – 2002, 12/36 states in Nigeria expanded the Shari'a legal and social systems. - Despite the acknowledged freedoms & benefits of Shari’a, Muslim women aspirations are far from fulfilled. • IFL project (Phase I) examined the content of Shari’a law, its application and administration vis-a-vis the level of enjoyment of women’s rights especially in family law matters as well their access to justice in the context of Ijbar, Talaq, Khul, Nafaquah and Hadhana. Adopted methodology: Dialogue, Scholarship/Research and Sensitization African Women’s Leaders Project Women’s Political Empowerment Zonal Offices Gender Affirmative Action Issue Based project Ten Centers’ Project Raising Her Voice Project “Realising Women’s Rights through the Reduction of Ignorance, Poverty and Gender-Based Violence in Ten States of Nigeria” Location & Scope: 1st Phase Centres : Malumfashi (Katsina), Bashi (Bauchi), Suleja (Niger), Ozubulu (Anambra), Billiri (Gombe) 2nd Phase Centres: Ugep (Cross River), Ado-Awaye (Oyo), Aramoko (Ekiti), Karu (FCT), Soba (Kaduna) Project Cycle: 4 years commencing from 31st of July 2008 to 31st of July 2012 Stakeholders: Host Communities, 7 member CCMC Committee, One grand Patron and 2 Patrons per Centre Funder: Netherlands Embassy; Total Funds: EUROS 949,592.70 Project Objectives Economic security for women through the instrument of adult education and skills acquisition towards reducing poverty. Increasing women’s access to Healthcare and Education through sensitization and awareness Enhancing protection of women’s human rights through Legal aid counselling Changing negative perceptions and mindsets through Community Advocacy and sensitization Building women’s self-esteem Outcomes/Successes: Successful commissioning of all the 10 project centres. (Dates) Established mechanism for reducing ignorance in indigenous women through conscious advocacy and sustained activities such as training, awareness creation, sensitization initiatives, capacity building etc Continued and successful collaboration with critical stakeholders – i.e. Govt agencies (3 levels), educational institutions, agency for mass education, local community traditional and religious leaders Enhanced capacities of WRAPA Supervisors to serve as supervisors and ParaLegal workers to deliver effective services to women in their local communities Strong indication for sustainability through the successful disengagement of the centres, commencing from Bashi centre. Challenges: Initial weak acceptance and support by some local authorities and communities especially in Oyo and Bayelsa (initially among the 1st phase), which had to be substituted with Gombe. Staff incompetence Inadequate financial resources for trainers remuneration Next Steps Project winding up with communities taking over Replication in other states and locations Further monitoring of centres progress for a period of 12 months.