The Executive Governor of Ondo State and his Ekiti State counterpart, World Bank personnel, and other stakeholders from public and private organizations have lauded the wife of Ondo State Governor and founder of Forum for wives of Ondo State Officials (FOWOSO), Her Excellency, Chief Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu on her giant strides in grassroots women and youth empowerment through FOWOSO.
The applause is coming on the heels of the greatly anticipated first FOWOSO summit, organized recently in Akure, amidst pomp and pageantry, as part of activities to commemorate FOWOSO’s one year anniversary of driving gender equality and improving family health through women empowerment projects and health awareness activities.
In her welcome address, the visionary founder of FOWOSO, decried the debasing statements, attitudes and cultural practices against the female folk.
While recounting the exploits of notable women like Queen Amina, Katherine Johnson, Folorunsho Alakija, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Merkel, Theresa May, and President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia, Mrs Akeredolu emphatically stated that it is to no one’s benefit to suppress the potentials in women, and restated her commitment to drive gender equality and women self-actualization.
In her own words, “Let me make it emphatically clear today; it is to no one’s benefit to suppress the abilities of women by denying them quality education, marrying them off against their will and confining them to the kitchen. The statistics are clear; nations that have risen to become world economic giants today are nations that invested significantly in their human resources, females and males alike, without bias. Everyone must be allowed to unleash their potentials without preference to any particular gender.
“How do we expect to develop if women, who make up more than half of the entire population, are restricted to kitchen duties and child rearing only, and are then expected to, like serfs, totally depend on their husbands for every need? It is simple economics; a high dependency ratio automatically results to stalled development. Knowing this, I have dedicated my life to driving gender equality, not because I love the female folk more, but because I seek the growth and advancement of humanity as a whole.”
The Chairman of the Occasion, His Excellency Dr John Kayode Fayemi, the Executive Governor of Ekiti State, in his opening remarks, congratulated Mrs Akeredolu and appreciated the Ondo State Governor for his massive support towards FOWOSO. Governor Fayemi observed that there is a low representation of women in government, and appealed for a representative number of women in governance who, according to him, will make a huge difference as active change agents.
The Keynote Speaker, Dr Munirat Ogunlayi –Senior Health Specialist, World Bank, Liberia– who spoke on the theme of the summit: “Unlocking Hidden Potentials in Girls and Women: A Task for All,” enumerated the factors responsible for hiding potentials in women –to include poverty, sociocultural norms, abuse, religion, amongst others– and their implications to the society, while proffering measures to unlock the hidden potentials of women through sound education, leadership development and mentoring, equal opportunities, enabling environment, and governmental support, to mention a few.
Highpoints of the event were a public conversation with and recognition of supportive husbands, including Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo State Governor), Dr Suraj Ogunlayi (Agriculture and Rural Development Consultant, World Bank), and HRM Oba Yussuf Adebori Adeleye (the Olubaka of Oka Kingdom), poster presentations by former chairpersons from the three senatorial zones of the state, breast cancer awareness by little Miss Funmilola Akeremale, and goodwill messages from key dignitaries.
The colourful event, which took place at The Dome, Igbatoro road, Akure had in attendance the wife of Ogun State Governor, Mrs Olufunso Amosun, former deputy VC Academics, Ekiti State University, Prof. Ibiyinka Ogunlade, Senior Special Assistant to Ondo State Governoor on Women Affairs, Mrs Titi Adeyemi, BRECAN and FOWOSO members and delegates, BEMORE girls, Ondo State APC Chairman, top government officials, Access Bank representatives, gentlemen of the press, youth corps members, and others.