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Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review
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Faith-based Organizations and Development Initiatives: The August Meeting Experience in South-East Nigeria

Onugu CU1* and Ojiagu NC2

1Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria

2Department of Co-operative Economics and Management, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria

*Corresponding Author:
Onugu CU
Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria
Tel: +234 806 049 2273
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: December 18, 2014; Accepted date: June 19, 2015; Published date: July 03, 2015

Citation: Onugu CU, Ojiagu NC (2015) Faith-based Organizations and Development Initiatives: The “August Meeting” Experience in South-East Nigeria. Arabian J Bus Manag Review 5:143.

Copyright: © 2015 Onugu CU, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Abstract

The study centered on Faith-Based Organizations and Development Initiatives of Women August Meeting in South-East Nigeria. The Catholics and Anglican religious women are the focus of the study. One hundred and fifty (150) of the women were sampled from Anambra, Enugu and Imo States of South-East Nigeria. Primary data were sourced through questionnaire, while secondary data were obtained from extant works. Data were analyzed through the use of percentages, crosstabs and ANOVA techniques. The result from the study showed that, the meeting involves women from all socio-economic strata. Meetings are held annually, with organized management structure and admission of only married women church members. They engage in development activities, prominent among which are women emancipation, ethical/moral training of women, conflicts management, church and community development. It is suggested that engendering development process approach in decision-making, the recognition and support of government, non-governmental organization and development-aid agencies can strengthen their activities.

Keywords

Faith-based organization; Development initiatives; August meeting; Experience; Southeast

Introduction

The month of August of every year witnesses an “in-immigration”, marked by massive home coming from different towns and beyond of “Igbo Women” groups to their marital rural communities where they unite with their colleagues for what could best be termed a congress, to articulate ideas, projects and programmes to be executed for the well-being of their communities. Indeed, from the remotest villages to the urban settlements in Ebonyi, Abia, Anambra, Imo and Enugu state of South Eastern Nigeria, the women have the same habit, the same attitude and motive towards the issue of August Meeting [1].

According to Odoemene [2], this is a norm that dates back to the 1940’s, when the church missionary societies (CMS) deemed it fit to device a way to give women a voice in the affairs of their community. The Annual “August Meeting”, is a Christian Women Group initiative often geared towards community development, conflict management and peace-building in rural societies. The “August Meeting” represents the socio-cultural, political and economic development initiative of women within the public sphere [2].

Women’s group has existed in Nigerian traditional society from time immemorial. Their roles apart from complementing those of males are meant to protect the interest of the women members, their spouses and children in particular and those of the society in general. They are known to be active in agricultural production, the provision of social services, social security, religious practice and adjudication on legal issues [3]. The independence and success of women have often confounded those who think that women are not capable of organizing themselves effectively for specific goals. Women today are involved in one economic activity or the other to assist in developing their homes. As stated by Umebali and Akubuilo [4], women raise fund from both formal and informal institutions to support their enterprises. According to Ijere and Mbanaso [3], women are good mobilizers and have been found to promote development in communities through such groups as:

• Women’s work group in agriculture

• Women’s group providing community services

• Women’s group in the church

• Women’s group providing social services

• Women’s group providing social security

Statement of the Problem

The Igbo communities of South-Eastern Nigeria are still characterized of poor physical infrastructure and a negligible industrial base. Their main economy which is commerce; trade, is highly individualized and has never been organized to favour community development. The Igbo’s are found in the remotest of communities in all parts of Nigeria and beyond doing his thing; trading. Yet, back home their communities lack good health facilities, with high death rate, high level of unemployment, low wages and limited access to other social services. There exist a preponderance of the weakest of our people at home in most Igbo communities. Community dwellers are not empowered and strategically placed to contribute meaningfully to development. Rather, few elites and particularly their supposed leaders in vantage political positions are corrupt. They oppress and suppress, ensuring that their citizenry remain poor and voiceless. Most active citizens migrate to urban areas leaving behind the old people, women and children, who are generally considered to be at the lowest rung of the poverty level in Nigeria [5]. Due to the mentioned factors, communities are not productive, viable, competitive or progressive. Indeed, life is still very miserable for community dwellers, especially women.

According to Nweze [6], various policies have been initiated, with attendant programmes executed to improve the conditions in the rural areas by successive governments, with marginal or no development effect. Onuoha [7], asserts that in most cases such programmes with “loft objectives”, often died with the government that initiated it. We had in the past, Better Life for Rural Women (BLFRW); Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP); and presently, Women for Change Initiative, all promoted at the national level, centered on women empowerment and executed by the first ladies. In spite of these initiatives, there are still the marginalization and deprivation of women in development, especially at the rural areas. Who then are the women initiators of this annual “August Meeting” and how organized are they? What constitute the criteria for membership and how is the organization characterized? Does ‘August Meeting’ meet the developmental challenges of women in South Eastern Nigeria? These issues raised constitute the problem of this paper.

Objective of the Study

The broad objective of this study is to characterize the membership and developmental role of women August meeting in Southeastern Nigeria. Specially, it is designed to:

1. Identify the socio-economic characteristics of women involved in August Meeting.

2. Find out the structure of the August Meeting and their sources of raising funds.

3. Characterize the membership of women August Meeting.

4. Determine the extent to which August Meeting meet the developmental needs of communities.

5. Assess the extent to which August Meeting solve key challenges of women.

6. Make deductions on ways of strengthening August Meeting for community development.

Hypotheses of the Study

H01: “The opinion of Catholic and Anglican church women differ significantly in their characterization of membership of August Meeting”.

H02: “The opinion of Catholic and Anglican church women differ significantly on the extent August Meeting meets the developmental needs of their communities”.

H02: “The opinion of Catholic and Anglican church women differ significantly on the extent August Meeting solves developmental challenges”.

Literature Review

Community development has been described as the efforts to enhance the living conditions of people through individuals, groups or the larger community [4]. A universally stated definition of community development is that it is a process by which the efforts of the people themselves are united with those of the governmental authorities to improve the economic, social and cultural conditions of communities, to integrate these communities into the life of the nation and to enable them contribute fully to national progress (UNO, 2007). From the above definitions, it means therefore that community development is a conscious and deliberate efforts aimed at helping communities recognize and increase responsibilities for solving their problems themselves and participating fully in the life of the nation [8]. It has become more evident that without the participation of the rural people there is no chance of reducing the level of mass poverty and of achieving long-term stable economic growth. Effective participation of people in community development efforts are meant to improve their standard of living with as much reliance as possible on their own initiative as well as the provision of technical and other support services in ways to encourage their initiative and mutual help, from government, nongovernmental organizations and development agencies [8].

Globally, there is an upsurge on the level of economic, social and political consciousness among women. Women have become an indispensable force that must be reckoned with particularly after the Benjing Conference in 1995. Women since then have become typical in development issues especially with regards to rural development. According to Ojiagu [9], for development to be viable and sustainable, it is crucial to ensure the participation of the community, which women make up to 65% due to migration of men to urban areas. Women are therefore playing commendable role in the economic development of our nation. In the words of Awe, they are backbone of agriculture in the rural areas, they are into cottage industries of weaving, dying and pottery as well as in commerce. Therefore, in discussing issues about community and development, Ebo, opines that emerging strategies must address linkage between women, since they are key economic participants of the rural areas.

Methodology

The study focused on Christian women members of August Meeting who are from the Igbo ethnic group in Nigeria. The Southeast zone of the country is the Igbo heartland, and is occupied by five states – Anambra [10] Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi and Abia. The ethnic Igbo are bounded on the east by the Ibibio and Efik nations, on the south east by the Cross River, and on the south-west by the Ijaw and Igado ethnic groups, and on the northern parts by the Idoma, Akpoto and Igara ethnic nationalities [2,11,12]. All Igbo sub-ethnic group speak a common language ‘Igbo’, though with diverse variations of dialects and have similar traditions and customs.

Though there are many Christian denominations in south eastern Nigeria, it is mainly the married women of the Catholic church and the Anglican communion that are active in August Meetings. The populations of this study are therefore the married women members of the two dominant denominations of the Christian faith (Catholic Church and Anglican Communion) in the states. Due to the absence of database on the Christian population in the five states, to wit, for the two dominant denominations, it is not possible to state the number of married women of the August Meeting. Therefore, the population was found to be ‘infinite’.

This study scope is limited to three states of Igbo-land – Anambra, Enugu and Imo. Though the phenomenon being examined (the agencies and activism of ‘August Meeting’ groups) is truly universal to the entire Igbo ethnic group. The study, however, focused on three states which are large enough to support any form of scientific conclusions, comparative inductions and deductions on the issues at stake. Due to the infinite nature of the population, purposive sampling technique, was applied to arrive at one hundred and fifty (150) members, which were adjudged a fair sample size to enable us elicit the needed information. Thereafter, fifty (50) respondents were drawn from each of the three (3) states used to give the desired sample size of 150. The researchers ensued that both the leaders and ordinary members of the Women August Meeting were selected as respondents. The sample was equally split between the two dominant denominations; the Catholic and Anglican faith.

Data for the study came from two sources; primary and secondary sources. Questionnaire was employed to access the primary data, while secondary data was sourced from published books, journals, magazines, unpublished thesis and the internet. Analysis of data was accomplished using mean, Likert-scale, percentages. One way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was applied to assess the opinion of respondents between the groups as in tests of hypotheses one, two and three. The IBM SPSS statistics was used to do all computations.

Results and Discussion

Socio-economic characteristics of respondents

The demographic profiles of respondents were investigated with a view to determining how homogeneous the respondents are. Factors considered for discussion include denomination, educational status, occupation, annual income and family size. The results of the findings are presented in Table 1. From the table, 52% are Catholics as compared to Anglicans (48.9%). In terms of the formal education attainment, there is an imbalance distribution between those with tertiary education (10.0%) and primary education (43.0%). The occupations of the respondents are spread out within farmers (26.7%); traders (20%); civil servants (20.3%) and full time house wifes (26.7%). The annual income earned by the respondents ranges between less than N50,000.00 (37%) and N70,000.00 (40%), while the family sizes of the respondents was found to be in the range of 6 – 10 children (83.3%).

Respondents Characteristics Frequency (n=150) Percentage (%)
Denomination
Catholic
Anglican
78
72
52.0
48.0
Educational Status
FSLC
GCE/WASCE
OND/NCE
B.Sc/HND
M.Sc/Ph.d
65
35
30
15
5
43.3
23.3
20.0
10.0
3.33
Occupation
Farmer
Trader
Professional (Lawyer/Doctors)
Civil servant
Fulltime housewife
Industrialist/Consultant
40
30
5
30
40
5
26.7
20.0
3.3
20.3
26.7
3.3
Income Per Annum
<N50,000.00
N50,000.00 – N70,000.00
N71,000.00 – N90,000.00
N91,000.00 – N110,000.00
>N110,000.00
55
60
20
13
2
37.0
40.0
13.2
8.6
1.3
Family Size (No. of Children)
<
6 - 10
11 – 15
16 – 20
21 – 25
> 26
15
125
10
-
-
-
10.0
83.3
6.7

Table 1: Socio-economic characteristics of respondents.

Management structure of august meeting

This section sort to find out the management structure of the Women August Meeting. The result presented in Table 2, reveals the members agreeing overwhelm that the August Meeting have formal management structure. The organs of management includes the positions of the president; secretary; management committee; project committee; zonal committee, branch committee; financial secretary and treasurer. The mode of leadership is through the election process (98%), that is decided by voting (100%). The members also indicated that the tenureship of their leaders range between 2 – 3 years (68.7%); and 4–5 years (31.3%). Three types of meetings are generally held (General, Zonal, Branch), while the frequency for the meeting are for general (once a year); zonal (2 monthly intervals) and branch (monthly). The eligibility to participate in the meeting is that one shall be a married woman church member.

Items Frequency (n=150) *Percentage (%)
Organs of Management
President
Secretary
Management Committee
Project Committee
Zonal Committee
Branch Committee
Financial Secretary
Treasurer
150
150
97
119
127
150
150
150
100.0
100.0
64.7
79.3
84.7
100.0
100.0
100.0
Mode of Leadership
Leadership by election
Decisions by voting
Representation by proxy
Promoters as leaders
147
150
-
-
98.0
100.0
-
-
Tenureship of Leaders
1 year
2–3 years
4–5 years
7–9 years
10 years and above
-
103
47
-
-
-
68.7
31.3
-
-
Types of meetings
General Meeting
Zonal Meeting
Branch Meeting
150
150
150
100.0
100.0
100.0
Frequency of Meeting
General; Meeting (once a year)
Zonal Meeting (2 months interval)
Branch Meeting (1 month interval)
150
48
69
100.0
32.0
46.0
Eligibility to Participate in Meetings
Married (women) church members
Single aged women
All female church members
150
-
-
100.0
-
-

Table 2: Management structure of august meeting.

Characterization of membership

The membership of the Women August Meeting was characterized based on a five point likert-scale weighting and a comparable opinions of the Catholic and Anglican Women member respondents obtained. The variables for the characterization comprised of the extent of their opinion on whether the membership were voluntary, compulsory, coercive and open. As shown in Table 3, the membership was neither clearly voluntary nor compulsive, but marginally has both characteristics. The membership is not however cohesive, but not open as it is restricted to only married church members. Importantly, the opinion of the women members of the two denominations (Catholic and Anglican) do not differ in their characterization of the members.

Options Catholic Women (n) Anglican Women (n) Total (n) Percentage (%)
Voluntary Membership
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Vary large extent
Total
12
16
20
19
8
75
15
15
17
22
6
75
27
31
37
41
14
150
18
21
25
27
9
100
Compulsify Membership
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Very large extent
Total
19
6
25
18
7
75
26
8
20
16
5
75
45
14
45
34
12
150
30
9
30
23
8
100
Coercive Membership
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Very large extent
Total
28
12
17
15
3
75
27
19
17
10
2
75
55
31
34
25
5
150
37
21
23
17
3
100
Open Membership
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Very large extent
Total
16
24
23
10
2
75
17
20
35
3
-
75
33
44
58
13
2
150
22
29
39
9
1
100

Table 3: Distribution of respondents by characterization of membership.

`Further to the above descriptive analysis is a hypothetical (Ho2) test on whether the opinion of Catholic and Anglican Church women differs significantly in their characterization of membership. Their opinions were subjected to Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) as presented on Table 4. The result revealed f-ratios differences of voluntary membership (.058); compulsory membership (1.846); coercive membership (.645); and open membership (0.576).

  Sum of
Squares
Df Mean Square F Sig
Voluntary Membership
Between Groups
Within Groups


TotalCompulsory Membership
Between Groups
Within Groups

TotalCoercive Membership
Between Groups
Within Groups

TotalOpen Membership
Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
6.000E-02
154.133
154.193

3.227
258.667
261.893

0.960
220.133
221.093

0.540
138.800
139.340
1
48
149

1
148
149

1
148
149

1
148
149
6.00E-02
1.041


3.227
1.748


0.960
1.487


0.540
0.938
0.058

1.846

0.645
0.576
0.811



0.176



0.423




0.449

Table 4: Analysis of variance (ANOVA) estimates for hypothesis one.

Goals and sources of fund for august meeting

This section sought to find out the goals and sources of fund of the Women August Meeting. The result on Table 5, shows the members agreeing overwhelm that the August Meeting primary aims are to promote the empowerment of women (92%), support of church infrastructural development (46%), as well as support for widows (54%) and the sick (61%). The sources of fund of the August Meeting are from two major sources; the internal and external. Dues (100%), donations (94%) and proceeds from catering services (92%) constitute the basic internal sources, while borrowing from male church members (31.7%), first lady programmes (25.3%) and NGOs’ (20.7%) are from external sources.

Items Frequency (n=150) *Percentage (%)
Goals
Empowerment of Church Women (members) only
Empowerment of Women generally
Empowerment of Church women only
Support of church development only
Support of community development generally
Support of widow church (members) only
Support of widows generally
Support of sick church (members) only
Support of the sick generally
Support of very poor church (members) only
Support of very poor people generally 
48
138
8
69
16
9
81
11
92
7
65
32.0
92.0
5.3
46.0
10.7
6.0
54.0
7.3
61.3
4.6
43.3
Sources of Fund:
  • Internal Sources
Dues
Donations
Proceeds from catering services
Vows from honorary members
Bazzer-sales
Launchings
  • External Sources
Borrowing from male (church members)
Support from first ladies
Support from NGO’s/Civil Society Organizations
Borrowing from financial institutions
International Donor Agencies  

150
141
138
61
16
21
47
38
31
3
-
100.0
94.0
92.0
40.7
10.7
14.0


31.3
25.3
20.7
2.0
-

Table 5: Goals and sources of fund for august meeting .

Development activities of women august meeting

This section reveals the development activities of the Women August Meeting. The result presented in Table 6 indicates that through group action, August Meeting has enthrone women socio-political integration and church progress. Other development initiatives are building of church halls; women rights protection; ethical and moral training, and settlement of disputes among families, members and communities. All these are indications that women are held to be steadfast in abiding by unanimously reached decisions of their group [13].

Items Frequency (n=150) *Percentage (%)
Development Activities
Women socio-political integration
Church progress
Awareness of gender roles
Building of church halls
Building of maternity homes
Building of domestic centres
Repair work at schools
Donation of hospital equipment
Women rights protection
Literacy programmes
Ethical and moral training
Settlement of family dispute
Settlement of member dispute
Settlement of commercial dispute
Settlement of boundary dispute
Promotion of girl-youth programmes
91
150
105
85
12
15
52
5
115
65
110
75
82
69
-
58
61
100.0
70
57
8
10
35
3
77
43
73
50
55
46
-
39

Table 6: Development activities of women august meeting.

Development needs of members

The development needs of members of August Meeting were sought through a five-point likert-scale rating opinions of the Catholic and Anglican women member respondents. The variables for the development needs comprised of the extent of their opinions on whether the membership of August Meetings meets the economic, social, health, moral/ethical, educational and safety needs. As shown in Table 7, the opinions of the women members of the two denominations (Catholic and Anglican) do not differ in their development needs of members. This is an indication that members needs is all embracing, and, are met at varying degrees.

Options Catholic Women (n) Anglican Women (n) Total (n) Percentage (%)
Meeting Economic Needs
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Vary large extent
TotalMeeting Social Needs
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Vary large extent
TotalMeeting Health Needs
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Vary large extent
TotalMeeting Moral/Ethical Needs
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Vary large extent
TotalMeeting Educational Needs Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Vary large extent
TotalMeeting Safety Needs
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Vary large extent
Total
29
3
20
20
3
75
20
11
20
18
6
75
19
9
23
18
6
75
16
29
23
6
1
75
34
4
25
10
2
75

28
16
24
6
1
75
29
9
11
22
4
75
23
15
18
17
2
75
26
12
18
15
4
75
16
27
28
3
1
75
37
5
14
19
-
75
22
16
29
7
1
75
58
12
31
42
7
150
43
26
38
35
8
150
45
21
41
33
10
150
32
56
51
9
2
100

71
9
39
29
2
150
50
32
53
13
2
150
39
8
20
28
5
100
29
17
25
24
5
100
30
14
27
22
7
100
21
38
34
6
1
100
48
6
26
19
1
100
33
21
36
9
1
100

Table 7: Distribution of respondents on meeting development needs of members through august meeting.

In addition to the above analysis is a hypothetical (Ho2) test on whether the opinion of Catholic and Anglican Church Women differ significantly in their development needs of members. Their opinions were subjected to Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) presented on Table 8. The result revealed F-ratios differences of meeting economic needs (0.014); meeting social needs (1.498); meeting health needs (2.294); meeting moral/ethical needs (0.008), meeting educational needs (0.017); and meeting safety needs (1.019).

  Sum of Squares Df Mean Square F Sig
Meeting Economic Needs
Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
Meeting Social Needs 

Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
Meeting Health Needs

Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
Meeting Moral/Ethical Needs

Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
Meeting Educational Needs Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
Meeting Safety Needs

Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
2.667 E.02
279.413
279.440

2.407
237.787
240.193

3.840
247.733
251.573

6.667E-03
124.667
124.673

2.667E-02
237.147
237.173

1.127
163.707
164.833
1
148
149

1
148
149

1
148
149

1
148
149

1
148
149

1
148
149
2.667E.02
1.888



2.407
1.607


3.840
1.674


6.667E.03
0.842


2.667E.02
1.602


1.127
1.106
0.014


1.498



2.294



0.008


0.017



1.019
0.906



0.223




0.132



0.929



0.898


0.315

Table 8: Analysis of variance (ANOVA) estimates for hypothesis two.

August meeting solving the development challenges of members

Finally, the study also examined the August Meeting solving the Development Challenges of members, yet, through a five-point Likert Scale weightings of the comparable opinions of the Catholic and Anglican women member respondents. The variables for solving of development challenges of members by August Meeting comprised of the extent of their opinion on whether the membership solves credit; input; literacy/educational and human rights/advocacy challenges. The result outcome (Table 9) indicates no group difference in opinions (Catholic and Anglican) that August Meeting is forthcoming in solving the development challenges of members through participation.

Options Catholic Women (n) Anglican Women (n) Total(n) Percentage(%)
Meeting Credit Challenges
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Vary large extent
Total Meeting Input Challenges
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Vary large extent
Total Meeting Literacy/Educational Challenges
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Vary large extent
Total Meeting Human Rights/Advocacy Challenges
Very small extent
Small extent
Some extent
Large extent
Vary large extent
Total
24
14
23
10
4
75


5
17
24
17
12
75


13
9
22
26
5
75


13
9
22
26
5
75

22
14
13
24
2
75

-
26
22
15
12
75


9
27
20
11
8
75

9
27
20
11
8
75

46
28
36
34
6
150

5
43
46
32
24
150

22
36
42
37
13
150

22
36
42
37
13
150

31
19
24
22
4
100

3
29
31
21
16
100

14
24
28
25
9
100

14
24
28
25
9
100

Table 9: August meeting, solving development challenges of members.

Moreover, to the above descriptive analysis, a hypothetical (HO3) test on whether the opinion of Catholic and Anglican Church Women differs significantly in August Meeting solving development challenges. Their opinions were tested using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and result shown on Table 10. The result showed F-ratios differences of meeting credit challenges (0.833); meeting input challenges (0.005); meeting literacy/educational challenges (1.707) and meeting human rights/advocacy challenges (0.008).

  Sum of Squares Df Mean Square F Sig
Meeting Credit Challenges
Between Groups
Within Groups
TotalMeeting Input Challenges
Between Groups
Within Groups
TotalMeeting Literacy/Education Challenges
Between Groups
Within Groups
TotalMeeting Human Rights/Advocacy Challenges
Between Groups
Within Groups
Total
1.307
232.187
233.493

6.667E-03
186.133
186.140

2.407
208.667
211.073

6.667E-03
124.667
124.673
1
148
149
1
148
149

1
148
149

1
148
149
1.307
1.569

6.667E-03
1.258


2.407
1.410

6.667E.03
0.842
0.833



0.005


1.707


0.008
0.363



0.942


0.193



0.929

Table 10: Analysis of variance (ANOVA) estimates for hypothesis three.

Conclusion and Development Implication

The research explored the roles of Faith-Based Organizations and Development initiatives, through the August Meeting platform in South-East, Nigeria. It is often believed by many, if not all that the women associations are only social in nature. The study showed otherwise as could be deduced from its findings. The Women “August Meetings” are mostly organized by the Catholic and Anglican Christian faith. Majority of the women members has their primary education and involves women from all socio-economic strata. The Women August Meeting have formal management structure and leadership. The method of election of officers is by voting and positions are tenured. The meeting is an annual gathering and exclusive for married church women members only.

Its main goal is the empowerment of women generally, community development and support of church programmes. August Meeting finances their activities internally mainly through dues, donations and proceeds from catering service; and, externally by borrowing from the male church members. Through the August Meetings, the women engages in development activities, prominent among which are women socio-political integration in the community, church progress, awareness on gender issues, women rights protection as well as ethical/ moral training of women.

The beneficiaries of the August Meeting are mainly women, followed by the church and community, while the key areas of benefits are awareness of gender roles, socio-political integration of women and church progress. Through hypothetical tests, it was firmly established based on the opinion of the Catholic and Anglican faithful’s, who constitute the August meeting, that women, church and the community did benefit from the development activities of the meeting.

In order to strengthen the Women August Meeting, it is suggested that activities of the meeting can be fine-tuned on decision making by engendering development process approach, their recognition by government, Non-Governmental Organizations and development-aid agencies about their development capacity. Indeed, Women August Meeting in view of its popularity and acceptance in south east Nigeria, can be used as a platform at community level for women liberation as well as development, particularly in such areas as value orientation, promotion of women rights, home management, health education and empowerment. It is strongly recommended that state and local government, Non-governmental organizations and developmental agencies, should establish collaboration with the ‘August Meeting’ platform for women mobilization and development initiatives particularly in rural communities of south-east Nigeria.

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