On 8 March, International Women’s Day (IWD), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Nigeria organized a one-day workshop and sensitization event in Ikeja, Lagos for 25 women, including seven female migrant returnees from Libya. The event was conducted in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, with support from the Women’s Technology Empowerment Center (WTEC).
The aim of the event was to leverage technology-related skills to enhance the economic, social and psychosocial reintegration of migrant and potential migrant women, as well as to use those skills to raise more awareness on the dangers of irregular migration and human trafficking and promote safe migration practices. The workshop focused on website design and basic digital literacy as well as provided a platform for women returnees to share their irregular migration experiences.
“With women being underrepresented in numerous fields, it is vital to equip them with the necessary skills so that they have equal opportunities for employment, leadership positions and decision making at all levels,” said Alex Cole, IOM Nigeria Programme Support Officer at the event. “It is therefore important to teach young female returnees and potential migrants, digital and tech related skills to help bridge the digital gender divide,” she added.
“It is important that a woman is self-reliant and learn a vocation of her choice. I encourage migrant and vulnerable women to key into services provided by the ministry,” said Adesola Onipede, representing the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
IOM has recorded that women make up 49 per cent of the 12,429 migrants returned predominantly from Libya since April 2017 under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. Many of these women travelled at the behest of traffickers and smugglers and have suffered exploitation, violence and other forms of abuse. Through this project, IOM provides psychosocial support, family tracing and reunification, business skills training and other types of assistance to start their own businesses and achieve sustainable reintegration.
In today’s ever-increasing digital world, technology is a useful tool to ensure that the voices of women are heard. Additionally, effective and strategic use can significantly improve productivity and outcome of businesses for women entrepreneurs.
“I graduated from computer science before I migrated to Libya but I could only do theoretical things. Now I can design a website by myself for my fashion business and also build for my friends,” said Oriola Abiola Azee, who learned how to build a website at the event.
This testimony was echoed by another participant, Emenike Chiamaka, who designed a website to help victims of human trafficking during the training.
The Joint Initiative is implemented by IOM to support the voluntary return and sustainable reintegration of vulnerable Nigerian migrants stranded across the Mediterranean migration routes.
To contribute to the prevention of irregular migration and human trafficking, IOM is currently implementing several awareness raising projects in Nigeria including the Aware Migrants project, funded by the Government of Italy, which is designed to promote behavioural change among potential migrants and their families and friends by helping potential migrants make safe and informed decisions about their migratory journey.
Worldwide, IOM is celebrating International Women’s Day as an opportunity to highlight the importance of migration data to better assist women on the move.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Potential migrants and returnees learning the ropes of web design. Photo: IOM