£60m disbursed in Asia, Africa, others to support women, PWDs – The Voice

Voice global has revealed that it has provided a total of 745 grants to over 1200 organisations across 30 countries in Asia and Africa channeling £60m from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to rightsholders-led local initiatives.

The Voice project was implemented in Nigeria by Oxfam which kicked off in 2016 is an innovative grant facility that supports access to resources, participation, and rights of marginalised rightsholder groups in Nigeria, including Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), Indigenous groups & ethnic minorities, Sexual minorities, Women facing exploitation, violence and/or abuse as well as Age discriminated groups such as Youth and Elderly.

The Voice Global Representative, Anne Mulehi while revealing it in Abuja at the Voice Project Closeout ceremony during a press conference said majority of these funds were given to rightsholders at the national and local level, with only 8% of the total budget funding initiatives at the regional level.

Mulehi said they have been working on a number of regional influencing agendas from challenging descent-based slavery in West Africa and creating legal protection systems for environmental defenders in Southern and Eastern Africa, to researching and advocating on the rights of intersex people in Asia and promoting the rights of deaf people in the Mekong region.

According to her, the Voice final evaluation report in particular finds that “Regional strategies have demonstrated the potential to magnify impact significantly. Notable examples from Voice include the Albinism advocacy efforts in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, as well as the Anti-slavery initiative in Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Mauritania.

She said these initiatives underscore the value of collective action in reaching common objectives such as influencing national action plans.

The empowering term rightsholder adopted by Voice reminds us that the rights reside in the people and helps us understand the role of projects is to support rightsholders to uphold, amplify and advance their rights.

Also, the Country Director of Oxfam, John Makina explained that the project which was implemented in ten countries across Southeast Asia and Africa – including Nigeria, Voice-funded projects empower rightsholders to come to voice, amplify voices for themselves and others like them and influence positive action for issues they care about whilst ensuring representation for a more responsive and inclusive society under the “Nothing about us without us (Now-Us)” principle.

He said the Voice has directly funded over 40 organisations under 4 grant categories which are the innovate and Learn grant, Sudden Opportunity grant, Empowerment grant and Influencing grant.

“Voice has reached over 100 organisations. worked in over 100 communities across Nigeria, including universities, custodial centres, rural settlements and urtian slums.

” The project has reached and impacted over two million Nigerians directly and indirectly. Not only did the Voice project cover funding for specific projects carried out by many organisations across the length and breadth of Nigeria, the grant also had the unique Linking and Learning approach for grantee partners and rightsholders alike at its core,” he said .

The Voice Project Coordinator, Akom Nya said their partners have engaged with older people to see how they are priotised around policies and also in the health sector.

He said they have been holding hangouts in different states and it is still ongoing and rounding off next month .

“We have empowered women to ensure that their voices are being heard and nobody is trampling on their rights . We believe that an empowered person will have the voice to speak up on issues around them .

“We have also worked with Government agencies to draft policies to ensure that women, children, youth, persons with disabilities are included in conversations, ” he said.