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A Development Manifesto for Women in Edo State
Various research studies have shown that economically empowering a poor woman, by
providing her with economic opportunities; in other words, putting money in her hands, have a
direct and positive correlation to her children’s improved health and nutrition and likelihood of
going to school. Furthermore, a developing country like Nigeria stands to rapidly improve her
chances for development when women are empowered as stated by a World Bank study:
“Countries that enact specific measures to protect women's rights and increase their access to
resources and education have less corruption and achieve faster economic growth than countries
that do not.” (World Bank). Therefore, investing in women and children will yield the highest
dividends on naira invested.
The human rights of women and of the girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part
of universal human rights; they should be promoted and protected. In the current environment of
poverty and lack, it is alarming that women do not fully enjoy their human rights and
fundamental freedoms, and the long-standing failure to protect and promote these rights and
freedoms are a major concern. Full implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Nairobi (1985) Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, the Beijing (1995) Platform for Action, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
and many more, are necessary to enfranchise women and the girl-child. These international
instruments, appropriately adapted to the local environment, can provide a viable blue-print for
creating an enabling environment for: our market women to thrive, girl-child to have safe access
to education, protection of women from sexual harassment, criminalizing corporate prostitution
(of university girls), enforcing policies against discrimination against women in the workplace,
addressing work-life issues, providing childcare, creating and implementing policies that will
assist women to break the corporate and political glass ceilings and finally, passing legislation to
ensure a minimum 30% gender representation as mandated by the United Nations.
There is also an urgent need to address the issue of violence against women and children
(especially the girl child). Government MUST enact laws and devise policies to prevent violence
against women and children and provide resources necessary to assist and sustain those who are,
or have been victims of violence. Such resources could include providing safe houses for
battered women, providing them with resources to establish a new life away from violent
partners, addressing cultural practices and beliefs which promote and encourage violence against
women, including gender education in schools targeted at young boys and also girls.
A SpecialCommission on Women’s issues must be set up by the government with resources to carry out research on women’s issues and needs and forward recommendations for policy implementation. The State Government must focus aggressively on uplifting the disenfranchised women in Edo State such as, women living in rural or remote communities, widows, destitute women, women in institutions or jails, the girl child, women with disabilities, elderly women and women survivors of human trafficking.
As long as women continue to be sidelined in development efforts, progress across the board will
be stifled. Efforts to alleviate or eradicate poverty will only succeed if State resources empower
women as well as men to become self-sustaining. This will positively impact their lives, their
families and their communities.
Some suggested actions that can be taken by the Oshiomhole administration include:
♦ Create a center for Research on Women in the State’s higher education institution- to be
tasked with providing the government with evidence-based research and statistics that
will support policy formulation and implementation.
♦ Micro loans, backed with guarantees where necessary, targeted at women and for
women’s' economic empowerment programs
♦ Create a forum to engage in substantive, outcomes-based dialogue with women groups in
Edo State and women indigenes of the State, residing in the diaspora.
♦ Create Micro -Schools (Adult Education Centers) for rural and urban women who missed
out in attending school to empower them to be literate, self sufficient and self reliant.
♦ Build and set up community centers in all local government areas, to deliver services
tailored to the needs of poor urban and rural women.
♦ Create a state apprenticeship training system – a hands-on training program for people
who want to work in the trades. This will provide training for women or girls who may be
interested in the trades such as: dress making/fashion design, cook/chef, baker,
hairdresser, to name a few. The training will also include classes to teach these women
are to become successful entrepreneurs. A well structured system that will establish a
training partnership with the different sectors of the economy by working with
employers/businesses and trade schools (if such exist). The govt. should also think of
providing some incentives to employers/businesses who will be eager participants.
The bottom line?
Women and children are the key to unlocking the door of development in
Edo State and in Nigeria at large
An Op-ed article by:
Ms. joan.Osa Oviawe (USA, Nigeria), Dr. Rosaline Oseme Okosun (Canada),
Ms. Eki Ogbeide (UK), Dr. Esohe Aghatise (Italy), Mrs. Helyn Woghiren (UK), Mrs. Sandra
Frempong (USA), Mrs. Barbara Emode (Canada), Ms. Iyesogie Ebohon (USA), Ms. Ov Obazee
(USA), Mrs. Priscilla Ikhareba (USA), Ms. Valerie K.V Osagie (USA), Mrs. Katie Ogiamien
Salami, MSW (USA), Mrs. Francisca Adeyeri (Canada), Ms. Tinyan Otuomagie (Canada, UK), Prof. Irene Salami-Agunloye (Nigeria), Dr. T. Obazee (USA), Ms. Tina Iyare (USA), Ms. Omolayo
Omoruyi (USA), Mrs. Maryann Omoregie (Canada), Mrs. Mary O
basuyi (USA) Lady Marcella
Iguodala-Cole (Nigeria) and Mrs. Cecilia Umuro (Nigeria).