#AccessIWD: Women’s liberation achievable, says Ondo First Lady

..decries low percentage of elected female candidates in 2023 elections

..nation’s economy ‘ll thrive if women thrive- AFDB President Adesina

The wife of the Governor of Ondo State, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has expressed optimism about achieving women’s liberation from perpetual subjugation and achieve gender equity in all spheres of life.

To achieve this, she called on women across strata not to relent in lending their voices to issues affecting their immediate society and devise plans and strategies to bridge gender gap.

Mrs Akeredolu said this in her goodwill message at the 2023 International Women’s Day conference, organised by Access Bank plc, held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos State on Thursday.

According to her, there were notable female champions who had made appreciable progress in their fields of endeavours and charged other women to be inspired by their achievements to make further progress.

Her words: “Women can be more, no doubt, if we are persistent and strategic enough. We can conquer more grounds by devising workable short and long-term plans that would altogether hasten women’s liberation from perpetual subjugation.”

The Ondo First Lady, however, lamented the drawback in the struggle for gender equity in politics, as experienced in the outcome of the just concluded general elections across Nigeria, which produced a very low percentage of elected female candidates.

L-R: Ondo First Lady, Mrs Akeredolu, Wife of the Vice-president, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Dame Pauline Tallen, Access Corporation Group CEO, Dr. Hubert Wigwe and the Board Chairman of Access bank, Dr. Dere Awosika

“Of the 423 legislative seats declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, (with outstanding constituencies as at February 25) women got 3.5%, while the men got a total of 408 seats, which represents 96.5% of the 423 seats. This is inauspicious, and it shows quite a distance from Eureka, yet something has to be done and urgently too, to make certain that women are not permanently silenced.

“Truly, it has been a tussle; an onerous one at that, but we are very much positive about winning, regardless, hence we remain unyielding in our pursuit of balance of the male-female percentage in all facets of governance and career, even as we strongly sermonise #EmbraceEquity”, she said.

She averred that, nurturing and mentoring young girls about their abilities to function in any field of life is the best approach to achieve gender parity.

The founder of the BeMore Empowered Girls Foundation informed guests that the initiative, which was launched in 2017, had equipped over 2000 girls with digital and leadership knowledge to champion female freedom in the nearest future.

Citing a 21-year-old Bemore Foundation Alumna, Miss Christiana Madu, who now owns a solar installation company with a COREN Certificate, the Ondo First Lady affirmed that the initiative had truly proven that digital skills are gender-neutral.

“Madu, like hundreds other Nigerian girls, is the result of our experiment with the Bemore Empowered Girl’s Foundation, a technological innovation for bridging the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Entrepreneurship (STEM+E). Bemore has sufficiently demonstrated that digital skills are gender-neutral and put a lie to the notion that technological competencies are the exclusive preserve of the male gender.” She added.

Earlier in his keynote address, the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina called for a collective effort to break barriers facing women through robust and sustainable approaches.

He affirmed that the economy of a nation would thrive if women were given opportunities to thrive and break the glass ceilings, as he described women as the backbone of economic development who contributed significantly to job creation.

While commending Access bank for championing the cause of women, the AFDB boss , therefore, appealed to financial institutions to have a well designed money lending programme for women and also promote gender diversity within organisations.

Mrs Osinbajo addressing participants

In her remarks, the wife of the vice-president of Nigeria, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, enjoined women to beat fear, doubt and pursue their dreams. She encouraged them to look up to other women who had made indelible marks in various fields and appealed to them not to be discouraged by obstacles.

In attendance were the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Dame Pauline Tallen, the Board Chairman of Access Bank, Dr. Mrs. Dere Awosika, a nollywood veteran actor, Richard Mofe Damijo, amongst others.

The Access bank Board Chairman, Dr Dere Awosika, who presented an appreciation gift to Ondo First Lady on behalf of the bank, commended her resilience, doggedness and commitment to the cause of Womanhood through her various female-related programmes and for always lending her voice to issues concerning the gender.

Mary Agidi
Special Assistant to Ondo State Governor on Media (Office of the First Lady)
March 23, 2023.

Published by WonderLady

Journalist, Educationist, Writer, Human Rights Advocate

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