I am Mary Omble Wuya (Miss), I was born into a family of seven;3 brothers and four sisters. I lost one of my brothers’ Anthony three years ago and my parents are still alive. I was born in a town called Akwanga in present day Nasarawa State demarcated from Plateau State, where I now live in Jos. Jos is the capital city of Plateau state, Nigeria. It is a city on a Plateau and it is located within latitude 800 220 North and 1000 240 longitude 800 310 each and 1000 220 each. The city has a population of 3.3 million people (2007 census) and still counting! Plateau State covers an area of 1322 square kilometres with an annual rainfall which varies from 131.75cm- 146cm with the highest rainfall usually recorded in July. Located in central Nigeria, Jos near temperate climate makes it an ideal location for holiday and presently boasts of a coterie of westerners and many Nigerians from other parts of the country. The city in 2001 experienced a serious civil strife (instigated by the blanket application of the sharia Islamic code in the Northern part of Nigeria) that resulted to the killing and dislocation of many people as well as the destruction of public utilities including water infrastructure.But there has been no fighting for over three years now. After graduation from the university, while waiting for the mandatory National Youth service corps (NYSC) scheme for Nigerian graduates I was employed as a Research Assistant for a Human Rights organization, League for Human Rights based in Jos, Plateau State Nigeria. As a Research Assistant I doubled as a Para legal for the organization’s legal office where I used to mediate and settle marital disputes relating to issues affecting women, mostly domestic violence, divorce, human rights violation etc.Perphas that accounts for my soft spot for women's issues. I had witnessed several cases where women simply had no choice but to bear several unfair conditions cos it was always more important to remain a married women according to our cultural and societal expectation. That inspired me to be interested in women issues, several of the women who come to the office where mostly too poor to afford the services of a Lawyer, the services offered by the organization where pro bono. I would usually try to mediate, reconcile and hopefully settle out of court, but where the case had to go to court the office lawyer would handle the court end of the case. We settled a lot of cases out of court, because Nigerian laws do favour the men in most cases, women usually forfeit all benefits in case of divorce. So most women actually prefer to remain in abusive marriages rather than be labelled a divorcee, with on social support from government or the spouse. And truly even in the 21st Century Nigeria is predominantly a marital society so there’s a lot of pressure from friends and family to maintain the status quo and most importantly traditional norms and values makes it difficult for women to voice out their grievences . So it is against this kind of background that I cut my teeth in women’s development work. I was trained during my youth service year as a certified UNICEF HIV/AIDS Peer educator. The training was to be utilized, to build the capacity of young people(14-18) years in secondary schools on HIV/AIDS preventive education. I successfully inducted an adolescent reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention project with an initial class of 40 adolescents. Today the club is a thriving organization within the school, Government Day Secondary School Tilden Fulani Toro, Bauchi State. I have since established several clubs called 'AFASH' Action for Sexual Health and hygiene in many schools in various communities in the north central of Nigeria. OCEAN equally has a HIV/AIDS women support group. I have worked in collaboration with other organizations in certain areas like the domestication of the CEDAW Bill(this bill has been ratified by Nigerian Government but is yet to be domesticated to enjoy the force of law), which is still in the House of Assembly awaiting passage so that women can actually have legal backing in court. I am also involved in other numerous activities in the State with other government agencies, such as the Plateau State Water Board where we have carried out advocacy and capacity building for communities on hygiene and sanitation, as a back drop of that project we established hygiene and sanitation vanguard clubs in these communities to sustain the campaign. As a result of the success we had with the project,OCEAN has conductedbaseline surveyon a rapaid gender assessmet in colloboration with Rural African Water Project an ngo in Imo State Nigeria for the United Nations Habitat. The findings of this research work has lead to the UN-HABITAT, Water for African Cities WAC (II) Project currently going on in Jos Plateau State. I also work with the Plateau State Agricultural Development Project (P.A.D.P) as a Consultant on gender issues relating to women who make up most of the labour force for agriculture in the state which is an agrarian state. The PADP has included some of our women groups into the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the South, South Co-operation Project with the Chinese Government in Nigeria. The Chinese Experts are working with some of women in the area of water supply and other agricultural inputs. OCEAN has carried out a lot of activities as an organization and sometimes as a collaborative partner although always with a gender bias for women. So gender issues especially as they affect women occupy a frontline position, which is central to our work. I am a member of Gender and Water Alliance GWA,Netherlands and Women's Earth Alliance women'U.S.A OCEAN’S PROFILE Organized Centre for Empowerment and Advocacy in Nigeria (OCEAN) is a non profit, non governmental organization base in Jos, Plateau State north central of Nigeria, West Africa. We are a women’s organization working for community development in the areas of Water, Hygiene and Sanitation Promotion, Other frontline developmental issues the Centre engages in are HIV\AIDS prevention and control strategies, reproductive health, Civic education and good governance. We carry out capacity building activities for grassroots women and most of our work is geared towards valued based education to empower women groups so they can begin to take responsibility for their development. We have a pool of resource persons made up of professionals who volunteer from time to time in these areas. We also network with several organizations in OCEAN's area of intervention within Nigeria. Advocacy work to empower women for decision making positions so they can really have a say and a voice in Nigeria communities for sustainable development Socio cultural norms and traditional beliefs which still keep women at the fringes of development and indirectly has significantly promoted the spread of HIV/AIDS in our communities, sadly with mostly women at the receiving end. I am a Sociologist(M.Sc) , but I work in the areas of enviroment;water, sanitation and hygiene promotion and HIV/AIDS.
My Vision for the Future
Gender equity in all ramifications in Nigerian communities.