Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, on Tuesday said there was the need to adequately empower women to contribute positively to the arduous task of nation-building.
The prominent Nigerians, which included Governor of Kwara State AbdulRahman AbdulRazak and his Ogun State counterpart Prince Dapo Abiodun, spoke at 19th National Women’s Conference of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) held in Lagos.
In his address at the conference, the Speaker House of Representatives Gbajabiamila noted that, “Women are born to influence the society. What this is about is empowerment of women. We have all heard about 30 per cent. The question is how do we empower women? I believe education is the first step to empowering women.
“”Like I said earlier, some people talked about 30 per cent and when you talk about 30 percent and I identified certain constitutional impediments which many women may not understand. There is constitutional impediments when we talk about 30 per cent. Our thought is I will champion the amendment of those constitutional impediments.”
He explained certain part of the nation’s constitution talked about discrimination on the basis of sex, saying when one creates certain percentage for a group the other will feel discriminated against.
The Speaker said it was high time the Constitution is amended to accommodate whatever percentage needed without necessarily discriminating against any particular sex. .
He said the part of the constitution that captures federal character could be amended to include gender balance, assuring that the course would be championed in the National Assembly to accordingly amend those sections of the constitution amended.
Mrs. Aisha Buhari who was represented by the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo said bringing about positive change is not negotiable in the country, urging the wives of political officers saddled with the responsibility to use their positions to transform the society.
She said, “It is therefore important one gets an orientation on how to optimize this opportunity. These I believe is the focus of this conference.”
Mrs. Buhari charged the women to prioritize the welfare of the vulnerable members the society, like the children, disabled, elderly that require protection and empowerment, saying ” Many projects are being run by people like us across the country to positively influence and affect their lives.”
The chief host of the conference, Lagos State Governor Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu noted that the theme of this year’s Conference which is,”Unlearn, Learn and Relearn: 21st Century Women’s T.H.E.M.E.S Perspectives and Approach’ would impart knowledge to all the participants.
He added that such knowledge will enable them contribute more effectively to the collective goal of building and delivering the Lagos we all deserve.
Sanwo-Olu added that , “Imparting knowledge is not only about adding new knowledge, which is the learning, but also about reminding ourselves of old and unchanging truths, which is the re-learning.”
Earlier, the Chairperson of COWLSO, Dr. Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, said committee also keyed into the T.H.E.M.E.S, agenda of the state government.
She said, ‘’As we all know, is the developmental agenda of the present administration which stands for Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy; Entertainment and Tourism; as well as Security and Governance.
‘’ As women, we must strategically position ourselves to take full benefit of the programmes of government. To unlearn means to do away with habits that are outdated and as well jettison practices that are against public good and public safety.’’
‘’In this 21st Century, women must also embrace new ideas and new innovations to be relevant. Women must learn to think outside the box and even go a step further to think without the box, to fit into the modern society. Recently, the State Government launched a couple of programmes in line with the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda in strategic sectors including Health, Environment, Agriculture, Education, and investment opportunities for entrepreneurs. For instance, in the area of ensuring sustainable environment, the State Government launched the Blue Box Programme aimed at deepening waste sorting from source. Our women stand to benefit a lot from this policy in the area of huge opportunities for job creation.
‘’The initiative is also designed to achieve cleaner, healthier, sustainable and livable environment. Also, the State Government launched N4billion through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSSTF), to empower Lagosians with ingenious business ideas, and in line with the philosophy of giving opportunities to women, 50 per cent of the beneficiaries have been listed to be women, while another 10,000 farmers in the State are to benefit from $200million World Bank facility to be disbursed in partnership with the State Government under the Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS).
‘’Out of the 10,000 beneficiaries, 35 per cent have been earmarked to be women, while 10 per cent would go to people with disabilities and youths. These and many more are the initiatives our women can plug into to be empowered economically.’’
She said the committee carefully selected tested facilitators and speakers to do justice to the various topics selected for the conference .