Engine maker powers gender equality
11 March 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202018302
IN its first two years, a Cummins initiative advancing gender equality around the world has impacted more than 100 000 people and resulted in eight laws or policies promoting gender equality.
Cummins Powers Women is an $11-million (R176-million) global grant commitment to engineer solutions to gender inequality. The investment supports a range of programmes, including grassroots teaching and mentoring, financial advancement through entrepreneurship, leadership training, and strategic guidance to non-profit leaders.
Oyeyemi Pitan and Amaka Enemo are two of them. Both women graduated from the advocacy and leadership accelerator workshop in Nigeria led by Rise Up, one of eight Cummins Powers Women non-profit partners.
Enemo knows first-hand how detrimental discrimination can be. She dreamed of going to university but was discouraged by her family’s meagre financial background.
As a sex worker, she faced violence and discrimination in several forms, but she was determined to make enough money to go to school. She eventually saved enough to register for classes. Following graduation, she received an application for the Rise Up workshop, while working for a non-profit advocating for the rights of sex workers.
“I was overwhelmed… [Rise Up] did not stigmatise or discriminate against me because of my job history,” Enemo said.
Through the workshop, she gained new skills in leadership and networking. This enabled her to secure grant funding to launch a non-profit organisation focused on improving relations between law enforcement and the sex worker population. Her mission is to end violence against sex workers by police in her state.
Pitan was already developing national programmes for women and girls before she participated in the workshop. She had been inspired to do this work when she saw girls in her region struggling to attend or finish school and getting married before they were ready.
At the workshop, she learned the importance of including law- and policy makers in strategic and effective advocacy. As a result, she is focusing her work on the passage of a national-level gender and equal opportunity bill, which aims to reduce gender discrimination, protect women’s rights, and increase women’s opportunities in both public and private spaces across Nigeria.
“I will know I am successful when girls and women in various communities actively participate in demanding for their rights and ensuring various existing laws and policies to better their lot are adequately implemented,” said Pitan.
Thierry Pimi, Managing Director of Africa and Middle East ABO, said: “My team and I are committed to continuing the actions of improving gender representation and gender equity and, most importantly, to influence other organisations and the community around us, because the issue of gender equity is fundamental. It’s not just the right thing to do; it is good for all of society.”