The Mothers And Marginalized Advocacy (MAMA) Centre was established and registered with the Nigeria Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on 5th November 2014 with the registration number CAC/IT/NO73269 as a Non-Governmental, non-profit making, non-partisan organisation with primary mandate to engage government on legislative and policy advocacy to eliminate threats to socio-economic and political status of the marginalised groups and advance their socio-economic and political rights towards self-determination, self-reliance, and self-sustenance in Nigeria.

MAMA Centre works to ensure the empowerment and autonomy of women and

the improvement of their political, socio-economic and health status and self-sufficiency towards achieving inclusive and sustainable development. Through its engagement strategies—advocacy, capacity building, research and networking, the organization works to ensure full participation and partnership of women and men in productive and reproductive life, including shared responsibilities for the care and nurturing of children and maintenance of the household.

The organization works to alleviate the threat to women’s lives, health, and well-being as a result of being overburdened with work and of their lack of power and influence. It empowers women to receive formal education in showcasing their knowledge, abilities and coping mechanisms to attain healthy and fulfilling lives. Through regular field-based research and fact-findings, MAMA Centre creates a socio-economic empowerment platform that enables women to innovatively improve on the existing income-generating activities, save more money, develop financial literacy, and diversify in other income-generating activities. In addition to increasing women’s access to financial services, the organization priorities skills learning and capacity building, self-esteem, increasing access to information and resources and promoting collective action among women in community associations.

The organization trains women to form self-organized and self-managed associations, each consisting of 30 to 50 members, to harmonise their socio-economic challenges, develop their areas of expectations and priority as advocacy ASKs for policy and legislative interventions. In order to change required policy and programme actions that would improve women’s access to secure livelihoods and economic resources, alleviate their extreme responsibilities with regard to housework, remove legal impediments to their participation in public life, MAMA Centre raises social awareness through effective programmes of education and mass communication.

Mama Centre works to improve the status of local women and enhance their decision-making capacity at all levels in all spheres of life including sexuality and reproduction. In order to improve the political and socio-economic status of women and other marginalised groups, the organization prioritizes strategic empowerment programmes and activities such as regular policy and legislative advocacy for established mechanisms for women’s equal participation and equitable representation at all levels of the political process and public life in each community to enable them articulate their concerns and desires; capacity building programmes that promote the fulfilment of women’s potential through education, skill development and employment, giving cognizance to the importance of elimination of poverty, illiteracy and ill-health among women.

It works to eliminating all practices that discriminate against women and other marginalised groups and assist them to establish and realize their socio-economic, health and political rights. MAMA Centre advocates appropriate measures to improve women’s ability to earn income in and beyond traditional occupations, achieve economic self-reliance, and ensure women’s equal access to the labour market and social security systems within and outside each community. As related to violence against women, the Centre holds strong advocacy and capacity building to raise policy and legislative conscious on existing local and international laws, regulations and other appropriate measures to eliminate violence, discriminatory practices by households and employers against women including those related to pregnancy status, child-bearing, breastfeeding and child-rearing.

MAMA Centre has worked long enough even before its registration to promote social development. We are most proud of our achievement in Udi local government when we engaged in advocacy visits to Community Leaders (Igwe and Council members), Catholic and Anglican church clergies on the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS patients and awareness creation on the cluster health facilities for treatment.

The visit to the Igwe of Udi’s autonomous community was mind-blowing. Prior to our visit the then Igwe himself was spearheading the war against people living with HIV/AIDS. He attested that he saw the disease as a punishment for wayward people in the community who engaged in sexual immorality and always ordered for the banishment of people living with HIV. Upon our visit, he learnt that there are other means of contracting HIV and that is it not a sin to be living with the virus.

The Igwe repented and embraced us, he invited his Council members to be enlightened and also invited us to come and speak to the women at the market square. Indeed, there was a revival after our visit. HIV/AIDS patients were no longer being discriminated against and they could easily access the only nearby health facility in Udi LGA for anti-retroviral drugs.

The next achievement was when in 2007, MAMA Centre mobilized pregnant women to access Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLITN). First, we embarked on awareness creation on the availability of LLITN, then the use of LLITN and how and where to access them. We went through all the health centres in Akwuke Uwani Community, during immunization days, so that we could meet more women/ children and health providers. Then we visited a Catholic Priest who also invited us to come and address the congregation on a Sunday to spread the good news.

We also utilized the opportunity presented to engage women during August meeting. This August meeting in Igbo Land is a very important time when women from all works of life, home and abroad convene in the village to discuss ways to improve their lives. Penetrating the August meeting was indeed a feat for us as only registered members from the Community are allowed to join in.

The whole idea of distributing the LLITN was to arrest mosquito bites which brings about malaria which is one of the major causes of maternal mortality and morbidity. In all, the experience was very fulfilling and rewarding. Community engagement is like planting a seed and watching it blossom.