By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Federal and state government have been called upon to demonstrate political will to ensure that the needs and concerns of Nigerian women are consciously met.
The call was contained in an address presented by the Cross River State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hon. Rita Agbo Ayim at this year’s International women’s day celebration.
She said that women should be involved in policy and decision making at all levels and enact laws and policies for inclusion and non-discrimination to safe guard interests of women and its full implementation.
Ayim also called for the provision of adequate resources for empowerment, education and training of Women and girls.
According to her, “strengthen the state and national machineries responsible for women’s empowerment so that they can function optimally”.
Also, Ayim called for support for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to work in partnership with government and local communities for effective reach and impact, adding “the future of our country belongs to the men and women. We can no longer afford one side behind by accident or design”.
She said, “to uphold women’s rights and fully leverage the potential of women’s leadership in this period, the perspectives of women and girls in all their diversity must be integrated in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes in all spheres and at all stages of the pandemic response and recovery “.
“In Nigeria in particular, women are facing increased domestic violence, unemployment, poverty and disproportionate and inadequate representation in national and global COVID-19 policy spheres, she noted”.
While describing this year’s celebration like no other, because as countries and communities start to recover from a devastating pandemic, we have the opportunity to finally end the exclusion and marginalization of women and girls”.
She highlighted some of the challenges faced by women in leadership to include, where men are considered more important than women, conservative political attitudes, poor access to education and economic lopsidedness which dictates the presence and voice of women in public life”.
She commended the numerous contributions His Excellency the governor Senator Ben Ayade has made towards encouraging women in the state.
Most importantly, she prayed God to continue to protect the First Lady, Her Excellency DrLinda Ayade who has been very supportive of the affairs of women and girls in the state.
In her goodwill message at the occasion, Speaker, Cross River state women’s parliament, Hon. Beatrice Ebingha, called on women to begin to love themselves. Women she said have come a long way and this time around must hit the road. The only way out is for us to begin to love one another “.
Ebingha described inequality against women by men as -wicked”.
She regretted that women are their own problems because they are not united nor extended the hands of fellowship to their housemaid, showing that “you are not a woman”.
She, then queried “what are you doing to render a helping hand to that woman by your side?”.
In her own speech, the chairman of Calabar South local government, Hon. Esther Bassey, urged women to speak out and come out from their comfort zone so that they will be heard .
She called on women to stop running down their fellow women especially those in power. You need to say here I am, celebrate yourself and your own. Fight for yourself by way of speaking out. No one can do it better, you can do it yourself”.
Bassey condemned all forms of violence against women and girls in our society today and urged women in power to mentor others to climb the ladder too.
She urged them to have faith in God adding, “I specially appreciate our mother Dr. Linda Ayade for her role in ensuring that women are carried along in this dispensation”.
Earlier, President of Cross River Women Empowerment Initiative (CRWEI), Eki-Eka Loureta Ita, lauded the efforts of the First Lady Dr. Linda Ayade towards women and girls in the state.
Ita commended her for her interest towards the vulnerable women and girls in Cross River state and urged her not to relent in her efforts.
The highlights of the celebration was the extension of alms to fourteen vulnerable women drawn from the seven local government areas in the southern senatorial district of the state. This good gesture would be extended to other local government areas soon.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Women In leadership : Achieving An Equal Future In A COVID-19 World”.