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Meet Laila Dongoyaro, The Woman Who Fought For The Rights Of Northern Women And The Poor

Laila Dongoyaro was known for fighting for Northern women’s right and the poor. Her journey into women’s activism stemmed from her childhood experience.

Born to a Syrian father and a Hausa-Fulani mother, Laila had only primary school education when she was married off at the age of 12. When she grew up to know the value of education, Laila started to advocate for girl-child education.

In 1963, she became a founding member of Jamiyar Matan Arewa, an NGO created to support poor families in Northern Nigerian communities.

The NGO grew to establish a nursery school and a day care centre; from there, they expanded to a primary school, a junior secondary school, a senior secondary school and a centre of NECO and WAEC.

Laila, through JMA, helped in sensitising rural women and empowering them economically.

She also campaigned against a major feminine problem which is notable amongst Northern women, Vesico Vaginal Fistula, an abnormal fistulous tract extending between the bladder and the vagina that allows the continuous involuntary discharge of urine into the vaginal vault.

She called for support of the women suffering from this disease as they are abandoned by family members.

Years later, Laila went into politics to improve the lot of women; however, despite years of agitation, Nigerian women had yet to occupy their rightful position in the nation’s political space, something Laila attributed to the unwillingness of men to accommodate them.

Laila Dongoyaro later served as the president of JMA as well as president of the National Council for Women Societies. She received many awards and was conferred with the traditional title of Garkuwar Garki and the national honour of Officer of the Order of Niger (OON), among others.

She died at the age of 66 in 2011.

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