The maiden edition of the annual gender equality conference organized by the Kwara State Government is holding virtually today.
A statement by Jamila Bio-Ibrahim, Senior Special Assistant to the Kwara Governor on SDGs, said the conference is to be jointly hosted by Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, and his wife, Olufolake AbdulRazaq.
Themed ‘Galvanising the Will to Take Actions on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment’, the event will feature speakers such as the former Liberian leader Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf; United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed; and Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen.
The panellists will discuss some of the contentious issues surrounding gender equality and hindering equal opportunity for both men and women in the various cadres of society.
Participants will have an opportunity to ask critical questions on the inclusion of women in politics
PREMIUM TIMES will bring you live updates of this event scheduled to hold online from 2:00 p.m.
The conference, which is a webinar, would be broadcast live on the state-owned Radio Kwara (Midland FM 99.1) and across Kwara state government’s social media handles, as well as on Nigeria’s only Women Radio (91.7FM).
Zoom Log in details: Webinar ID: 858 2443 8136. Passcode: 581017
4:30 p.m. – Olufolake Abdulrazaq, the wife of the Kwara state governor gives a vote of thanks.
She takes turn to thank all the speakers including the former Liberian leader, Mrs Johnson Sirleaf, Mr Chaudhuri, the world bank country director for Nigeria.
In her closing remark, she said Nigeria has made progress in engendering gender equality and ensuring female inclusion in politics but the efforts are not enough yet.
PREMIUM TIMES previously reported how women’s poor representation undercuts Nigeria’s democratic journey and the enduring quest for gender equality in Africa’s most populous nation which clocked 60 today.
In the 2019 general elections, the sixth since the inception of the fourth republic two decades ago, women accounted for almost half of the voting population.
Sound legislation is the best way forward said the Kwara state first lady.
Mrs Abdulrazaq urged other states to take a cue from today’s event and hold conferences and programmes that will drive women inclusion and gender equality.
Erelu Bisi Fayemi speaks on the political and legal frameworks for protecting women.
Mrs Fayemi is the Ekiti State First Lady. A British-Nigerian feminist activist, writer, and policy advocate, in 2001 she co-founded the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), the first Pan-African grant-making organisation. She also serves on the Executive Boards of the African Women’s Development Fund.
Mrs Fayemi said Ekiti state has the most robust framework in terms of gender equality in Nigeria. She said legal and political frameworks are pivotal in driving gender equality.
She said gender equality can not be advanced without partnerships with Civil Societies. She also said the wife of governors has a major role in advancing women’s empowerment.
She said in June, the wife of governors started a movement to end gender-based violence (GBV). She said the movement has played an important role in putting together the framework for the GBV bills.
she recommended that states should pass Gender-Based Violence bills into law. “It is important that we have an effective mechanism in the implementation of these laws to ensure that key actors are working in sync for maximum results.
Partnership with NGOs; learning from other states and countries are also some of her recommendations.
3:45 p.m. – Comfort Lamptey, United Nations (UN) Women Resident Representative for Nigeria speaks on the work UN women is doing to support equal opportunities in Nigeria.
She starts by commending the efforts of the Kwara government in engendering gender equality in the state.
She said the UN women is an organisation that plays a key role in empowering women and putting them in the front of entrepreneurship opportunities.
Mrs Lamptey urged the Kwara government to continue using budgetary allocations to push women empowerment. She said there is a need to end the sexual exploitation of women in Kwara. She said the high rate of trafficking and labor exploitation of women in the state is due to economic hardship.
“We are witnessing increased cases of female violence in many parts of Africa. investing in women is a key message and focus for UN women and that is why we are calling on all governments in Africa to lend a voice to this advocacy”, she said.
Mrs Lamptey said what she has seen today from the commitment by the Kwara government is the male alignment in the push for women empowerment.
“You are a He for She”, she said of Mr Abdulrazaq, the Kwara governor.
“We urge you (the governor) to encourage other governors and bring on board in this quest for gender equality”, she noted.
3:47: Comfort Lampety of the UNWomen commends Governor AbdulRazaq for putting women and gender issues in the front burner saying the decision is important for development of the state. “Your Excellency you are on the right side of history”.
Anna Raas, a representative of the Swedish embassy shares experience on how the European country has put in place policies that puts gender equality at the centre of policymaking.
She said gender equality is not just about equality for women but for also men. She said one major are that is helpful in driving gender equality is by ensuring the sexual and reproductive rights of women.
Mrs Raas explained how the Sweedish government is partnering and supporting advocacies geared towards gender equality in Nigeria.
Also speaking on the same subject, Khwima Nthara, a Malawian national also working with the world bank as an economic adviser said investing in women empowerment is a smart decision.
Speaking on the call by the Kwara governor for donors to use conditionalities that would always insist on prioritization of women, Mr Nthara said the world bank is not obliged to use conditionalities in its support for countries it is working with.
“The world bank rather is supporting legislative and institutional frameworks that are promoting gender equality and women in empowerment”, he said.
He said the global bank is providing grants and several interventions in various African countries to help households make it possible for girls to have access to school and reproductive health services.
Shubham Chaudri speaks on addressing gender equality with economic opportunities:
Shubham Chaudhuri is the Country Director for Nigeria. Prior to his current role, he served as the World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.
Mr Chaudhuri said authorities in Nigeria should priotize women in its human capital development agenda. He said this can be done by ensuring that families and communities keep women in school and inspire them to be professionals in various fields.
He explained that the World Bank is using a project called SWAG – Supporting Women And Girls to empower women not just with money or sending them to school but also showing technical support.
The former Liberian leader also said women have played a remarkable leadership role in the COVID-19 era.
“The leadership roles played by women in many countries during the coronavirus is remarkable and should be celebrated”, she said.
She however frowned at the high rate of domestic violence experience mostly by women during the pandemic lockdowns.
She called for action and advocacy towards tackling gender violence.
In the 1985 national election, she campaigned for a seat in the Senate and openly criticized the military government, which led to her arrest and a 10-year prison sentence. She was released after a short time and allowed to leave the country.
The former leader said some of the African countries including Nigeria have already started using the quota system to allot political positions to women. She said this is commendable.
Hope rose when the 35 per cent Affirmation Action bill was introduced for women was introduced in Nigeria in 2017. The bill seeks to zone and provide 35 per cent seats in government for women at the federal level and 20 per cent at the state level.
The 8th National Assembly, in July 2017, however, voted against the bill.
The former Liberian leader had served as assistant minister of finance between 1972- 1973 under President William Tolbert and as a finance minister in Samuel K. Doe’s military dictatorship.
She became known for her personal financial integrity and clashed with both heads of state. For that, she was imprisoned twice and narrowly avoided execution.