Dignitaries from all works of life converged on Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, in November for a two-day gender summit aimed at further promoting gender equality and to offer a new lease of life for women across the state.
The summit was convened by the wife of the state governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, in collaboration with the ministry of women affairs, social development and gender empowerment and Ekiti Development Foundation.
The EDF is a non-governmental organisation founded by the First Lady to promote the rights of women, empower them and enhance their leadership capabilities.
Since the advent of the Governor Kayode Fayemi-led administration in October 2010, issues that promote gender physical and emotional wellbeing have taken the front burner.
The summit, which was held on November 1 and 2, 2011, has as its theme, “Promoting gender equality for sustainable development.” Wife of Oyo State Governor, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi was a guest of honour at the summit.
Participants at the meeting were representatives of the Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ondo and the host states’ chapter of the National Council of Women Societies; federal ministry of women affairs and social development and
The meeting discussed political, social and health issues confronting women and the girl-child and suggested way forward.
Other topical issues that dominated the discourse were how gender identities are constructed and used across generations and ways of making policy framework meaningful in the life of Ekiti women.
The summit also examined how to mainstream gender into community mobilisation, as well as evolve policy leadership and women’s political participation at all levels of governance across the state.
Speaking at the occasion, the chief convener said the summit was convened to examine how gender- related issues affects the people and the different roles the stakeholders had to play as leaders, policy makers and knowledgeable people.
Erelu Bisi Fayemi stressed the need to link the policy framework of the administration with necessary legislations that would impact on the lives of ordinary women in the communities.
She assured the people of the state that the new administration would continue to strive hard towards the improvement of the socio-economic wellbeing of women and the girl-child.
The First Lady, who described women as veritable instruments for the development of any nation, pledged the commitment of the government to addressing the various needs of each community towards banishing poverty in the land.
The governor’s wife promised to continue to advocate legislative and policy framework, which would hold government accountable to the people.
She added that policy developers should always appreciate the crucial role of women and their importance by ensuring gender balance during policy formulation and implementation.
The First Lady assured the people of the state that government would continue to empower them through micro-credit schemes and empowerment schemes.
Declaring the summit open, the governor noted that majority of the women in the state live below poverty line and lack access to basic amenities despite doing most of the work that lift their families.
Governor Fayemi disclosed that 66 per cent of the work in the world is performed by women, while 60 per cent of food-related work is also done by women. Sadly, he said that women earn a paltry 10 per cent of the global income for all the trouble.
Stressing the importance of women to the growth and development of any society, the governor added that the ability of women to save and invest in their families is well documented as they fight hunger and malnutrition.
He lamented the level of marginalization suffered by women through African patriarchy belief, tradition and inaccessibility to information, which render them vulnerable.
The governor reassured the people of the commitment of the government towards the lifting of the status of women politically, economically and health-wise.
In this direction, he said that he had instituted free healthcare for pregnant women and children below the age of five, as well as social security for the senior citizens as a safety net against hunger and deprivation. He noted that women were the major beneficiaries of the scheme.
Similarly, the governor said he appointed a number of women into key positions in the new administration, domesticated the national gender policy and presented the Ekiti state gender policy to the people.
He informed the gathering that his administration had made progressive impact on gender empowerment as contained in its 8-point agenda. He added that the government was committed to providing the enabling environment and framework for gender mainstreaming.
In her welcome address, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Social Development and Gender Empowerment, Mrs Fola Richie-Adewusi, said that the summit was aimed at assessing the accomplishments of the Governor Kayode Fayemi-led administration on gender issues.
She said that the assembly would also create open discussions for sustainable gender programming, noting that gender equality had become a tool and prerequisite for achieving developmental goals in more developed societies.
One of the high points of the summit was the keynote paper presentation by Prof. Bisi Aina of Department of Sociology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife titled, “Promoting gender equality for sustainable development.”
Other notable speakers at the summit include Dr Toyin Mejuini of Women Against Rape, Sexual Harassment and Exploitation (WARSHE), Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; and Mrs Aminu Salihu of the Nigeria Women Trust Fund, Abuja.
Also on hand at the meeting were the Executive Director, Community Life Project, Lagos, Mrs Ngozi Iwerie; and Executive Secretary of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba.
At the ceremony, a 100-women lobby group was inaugurated for the state to sustain the momentum created by the national summit on women’s participation in politics and to fulfil the obligations of international treaties on women empowerment.
The lobby group is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
The objectives of the group were to lobby for increase in the number of women in politics and leadership positions and to be the vanguard for the promotion of women and human rights, among others.
Also, the state anti-human trafficking working group was inaugurated to bring together stakeholders in the crusade against human trafficking.
Among the mandates of the group is to coordinate all the laws on trafficking in persons and related offences, as well as to investigate and prosecute offenders.
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Last modified: November 5, 2011