[Accra, Ghana] 25 – 27 October 2021 — The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) completed a 3-day successful capacity building training for women and feminist organisations in climate change, environment, and natural resource governance from across West Africa. Supported by Ford Foundation, the workshop was two-pronged in nature and under the overall theme “Strengthening Organizational Leadership, and Operational Efficiency of Women and Feminist Organizations in natural resource governance, climate change and environment in West Africa”. It comprised a half-day hybrid dialogue (in-person and virtual) and a two and half-day capacity building workshop for women and feminist actors across the region working on climate change, environment, and natural resource governance.
The policy dialogue which was themed “Capacity Gaps: A dialogue with women in climate change natural resource governance and environment in West Africa” was co-moderated by Omolara Balogun, Head, Policy Influencing and Advocacy, WACSI and Faith Nwadishi, Executive Director of Centre for Transparency Advocacy, Nigeria. It featured distinguished representatives of other women and feminist organisations across West Africa in climate change, environment, and natural resource governance as panellists, including Nawsheen Hosenally, co-founder of MEDIAPROD (Burkina Faso); Marie-Josee Houénou, Founder of WESISAH Foundation (Cote d’Ivoire); Maimuna Jabbie, Volunteers Coordinator for Greenup Gambia (The Gambia); and Juliet Alohan, Founder of Extractive360 (Nigeria).
The dialogue which attracted more than 80 participants (online and offline) across the region afforded the opportunity for the women and feminist actors to discuss diverse challenges facing women and feminist organisations in the fields of natural resource governance, climate change and environment, including those around strategic leadership and governance gaps; cultural beliefs hindering the progress of women; legal constraints that discriminate against women in these sectors; general capacity gaps in women-led organisations; failure for policymakers to recognise that women groups are not homogenous; access to land issues linked to culture; difficulty to access information; as well as the paucity of women working in these fields.
Major outcomes of the dialogue include 1) an urgent need to enhance women’s capacity to advocate and influence policymaking processes at national and regional levels; 2) ability to connect other gender-based issues and its interconnection to natural resource governance; 3) establish a network of women to mentor younger women (students) and increase interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and on feminists principles and emerging issues; 4) build women’s capacity to diversify sources of funding and reduce dependency on foreign donors; and 5) intensify advocacy to eliminate cultural, physical and financial constraints placed on women in the mining and extractive industries in the region.
The 2.5-day capacity-building workshop focused on strengthening the institutional and operational efficiency of women and feminist organizations (especially young feminists) participating organisations. The workshop focused among other themes governance and leadership within women’s organisations, resource mobilization and strategic partnership building, resilience building, networking, and advocacy.
At the end of workshop, participants designed individual action plans to enable them institutionalise learning acquired across themes in their respective organisations. To facilitate cross national information sharing and build solidarity and capacity, the group decided to set-up the foremost regional network of women working on environmental issues dubbed “Women in Environment, Extractives and Climate Change (WEECC – West Africa)”.