Founder/President and International Coordinator of the Women Standard Bearers International (WOSBI), Dr. Mrs. Joyce Ogho Ogwezi has said that empowerment of women, girl-child education must be a priority, as it is key to empowerment of children, families and whole communities.
Delivering her welcome address at the 4th Edition of the International Women Summit, held recently at Kayriott Hotels and Suites, Effurun with the theme ‘Women on the Frontlines, Bold Initiatives for Transformation, Ogwezi said that the benefits of investing in women and girls far exceed the cost of not doing so but many individuals and organizations are yet to give this segment of society the chance they so desperately need to survive.
“I am a strong proponent of the theory that empowerment of children is intrinsically linked to empowerment of their mothers. The connection is more than umbilical. Empowered women often transfer their empowerment to their children, families and whole communities and thus begin a virtuous cycle of empowerment. An educated mother will have the potential of breaking the vicious circle of poverty, illiteracy and ignorance. When an individual is empowered, they know what is happening to them and they use their knowledge for their good and for the good of others.
“In WOSBI we also, recognize that the girl-child education is key and must be a priority. Educating one girl is an investment in a family. The fact that many girls drop out of school due to personal, family and financial constraints requires that more investment be made in providing the right conditions including free education and support to poor families. Girls are vulnerable when faced with lack of economic opportunities. “
In her opening remark, Hon. Justice Mrs. Gladys E. Akperi (Rtd.) Judge Delta State Judiciary admonished the girl-child to dress to cover herself. According to her “With the new rave of nudity around town mothers must see to it that their daughters dress decently so that they can be addressed decently and not be victims of rape. Also educate your sons who do not have a skill or basis of feeding themselves not to impregnate a girl to prove to their friends that they are virile. For any woman if you are stuck with a man that is violent, do not wait to be killed do a temporal separation and pray for God to intervene in your issue.”
On her part, speaking on Women Environment and Climate Change, Nefertiti Ayo Okotie, Executive Director Neferok Development Initiative NeDI, a Non-Governmental Organization, said that natural and human factors causes environmental degradation and climate change and women are mostly and seriously affected by environmental degradation. “Environmental problems affect women in diverse ways as they are major stakeholders in environmental issues because they play a critical role in managing natural resources at the family and community level.
“Many of the solutions to climate change and environmental degradation are expensive but we can adapt low-tech solutions that are not only effective and economical but has a successful funding model. It is therefore imperative that women possess knowledge, skills and attitude and be involved in decision making in relation to curbing environmental problems.”
While delivering the key note address on Women in Politics and Governance, Mrs. Felicia Iyore Onibon, President/CEO, Change Managers International Network (CMIN) and National Coordinator, 100 Women Lobby Group stated that “In Nigeria, although women constitute 50 percent of the population and 51 percent of voters in elections, yet they do not enjoy their full political rights as their male counterparts. Available statistics reveal that women’s overall political representation in government is less than 7 percent. Also, women have not still attained the recommended 30 percent seats in government as prescribed by the Beijing platform of Action to which Nigeria subscribes.
“Women’s participation in governance and leadership is not only an essential prerequisite for removing gender inequality but also the attainment of basic human rights. Women have the right to participate equally with men at all levels as required by regional and international human rights treaties. Women are under-represented in all political decision making bodies and their representation has not increased since the inception of democratic rule. The representation of women in political offices has been fickle.
“In Nigeria and most African countries, men rule the world and have over the years made laws and created situation that seek to favour men to the disadvantage of women and girls. This status quo they have tried to maintain over the years. Patriarchy which is practiced in most African societies have socially, politically, economically and culturally stifles the idea of equity and equality in gender dynamics. There is need to deconstruct gender if we must make any meaningful National progress The lack of women in decision-making positions may be one explanation for Nigeria’s low investment in sectors that are crucial to human development outcomes, such as health and education.” She said
Speaking on girl-child education earlier, Dame Chief Mrs. Florence I.A Ehinlaiye Founder/Proprietress, Twin Fountain Group of School, Initiator Girl Child Project (GCP) and Visioner Society of Female School Owners of Nigeria, advised that the girl-child should dream very big, work very hard and strive to be the best in whatever she chooses to be because for a woman to be recognized she would have to work triple times what her male counterparts work. “I am delighted that something I conceptualized over 30years ago, the Federal Government gave birth to it as a policy recently.
For the President to now say that it is compulsory for all girl-child to acquire formal education and not be given out for marriage until they are minimum eighteen years, there is the tendency that they will create space for women in leadership soon. Giving out underage children for marriage was wrong because by the time a girl-child is able to go through formal education she would have learnt so many things that will make her life beautiful, she can take sound decisions and her body would be ready to produce children.