As journalists and civil society organizations get ready to attend a crucial Roundtable with the Ford Foundation and women groups on gender rights and civic engagement, a number of issues stand out.
Nigeria is on the threshold of a new democratic dispensation, with many challenging issues that the soon-to-be inaugurated federal government will have to address, including governance and accountability, resource control, climate change, gender rights, ethnic justice, inequality and inclusion and how to effectively engage with a broad spectra of civil society groups. These are issues that past administrations have struggled to address with minimal successes.
Recognizing that the Nigerian government, no matter how well intentioned, may not be able to address these issues alone, the Ford Foundation (FF), an international philanthropy, in over sixty years, has provided enormous support to countries spread across 11 regions in Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America in the areas of technology, social justice, climate change, resource governance and inequality. Through its Global and Regional Offices, the Foundation has brought about transformative interventions by giving voice to those who seek to be heard as well as made effort to end gender based violence (GBV) and increase the participation of locals in resource governance.
In West Africa, through the support of the UN system, International and civil society groups, including women group human rights and community response organizations, the Foundation’s grant-making programs in Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal have been used for advocacy, projects and research works to address gender based violence (GBV), natural resource and climate change issues, health, education and the empowerment of people with disabilities to mention a few, with the ultimate aim to end inequality.
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In 2021 and 2022, the Foundation trained women journalists and launched a project called Kasa!, a Ghanaian term for speak out.
More recently, the Foundation’s focus in West Africa is to prevent gender-based violence through partnering with leaders of faith and culture to address the cultural and religious norms that tacitly encourage GBV. The Foundation will also support advocacy to improve government’s own efforts at addressing GBV – increased gender sensitive budgeting, stronger policies and implementation of existing policies, speedy prosecution of GBV cases, among others. The foundation is also addressing natural resources and climate change issues in West Africa and is specifically focusing on community benefit sharing, policy strengthening, tax justice, illicit financial flow and just energy transition.
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We believe that the Ford Foundation’s efforts should be an example for local companies and high networth individuals to also forge partnerships with international philanthropists and local CSOs to address germane social issues in our region.