By; ODEYEMI SAMUEL, Akure
The wife of the Ondo State Governor, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu has reaffirmed the need to continue to press forward towards ensuring gender parity.
Addressing the ,2018 Girls’ Summit which she organised in conjunction with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to mark this year’s celebration of International Women’s Day at the International Events Centre, Akure.
According to her, recent World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report showed that it may take up to 217 years to close gender gap thus, the need to press for progress by motivating all and sundry to think, act and become gender inclusive.
Arabinrin Akeredolu, said students from secondary schools across Akure metropolis used the opportunity to restate her commitment not only to promote the cause of women but that of the girl child by urging them to ‘BE MORE proactive’, also highlighted some of her initiatives that has impacted lives in the community.
“We have trained over 250 secondary school girls in solar renewable energy and also, over 100 secondary school girls were trained in Information Communication and Technology (ICT) where the girls were given free tablets for their post training”, she added.
While noting that the aim of the celebration is to reflect on progress made, call for change and celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played extraordinary roles in the history of their countries, Mrs. Akeredolu observed that unprecedented steps have been taken by the Arakunrin led administration which appointed over 52 women into various political offices across the state assured that more will come.
Speaking at the occasion, the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu advocated for equal opportunity for both boys and girls.
The Governor, who was represented by his Special Assistant on Education, Dr. Mrs. Ilawole also used the opportunity to express optimism that gender parity is achievable.
Earlier, in her opening address, the chairman of the occasion, Prof. Mrs. Adenike Osofisan traced the history of International Women’s Day celebration stressing the place of women in the development of the society.
She urged the students to take advantage of the programme to learn and become empowered so that they are prepared to take over from the older generation.
In her goodwill message, the Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hon. Omowumi Olatunji-Edet, challenged women to take the lead and stand at par with their male counterpart.
While urging the students to equip themselves with the right education, she further charged them to stand tall and speak out whenever necessary as they are the ones that will determine their future.
Dr. Ndidi Ofole, in her keynote, expressed concern over gender discrimination against women when it comes to education, health and marital life.
Dr. Ofole who affirmed the importance of respecting a woman’s right to choice of marriage as it is her fundamental right noted that women must consciously know and maintain their rights in order to avoid further abuse by the men.
Also speaking on the role of education in the development of the girl-child, Mr. Murtala Mohammed explored the different stages of girl-child development stressing that Ondo State has the highest number of girls who give birth to children before age 18.
He also questioned the incidence noting that there was a need to look at the cultural orientation, family values and the level of poverty that may have given rise to such incidence and also x-rayed the possibility of setting up secondary schools for mothers in Ondo State.
Another guest lecturer, Dr. Elizabeth Oloruntoba who spoke on Sanitation and Menstrual Hygiene demystified certain myths surrounding menstrual pain noting that it is important that schools need to have good toilet facilities that will be suitable for use of girls who are having their menstrual cycle.
While calling on the government to do more in terms of access to facilities, she noted that from studies conducted only 25% of schools have access to safe water and 42% have access to improve sanitation.
Speaking on the title, War Against Abuse of Girls, Mrs. Omotola Rotimi, stated that in one in every four girls experience sexual violence. She also highlighted fundamental rights of the child as well as the sexual rights of girls.
The event also featured among others teaching on self breast examination, panel discussion on women in politics, technology, entrepreneurship and career and as well a free medical check for all.