By Mosunmola Ayobami, Kwara
Kwara State Government will today hold its 1st Annual Gender Equality Conference with prominent gender rights advocates, diplomats, and policy leaders drawn from across the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) subregion and beyond slated to speak.
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on SDGs Dr Jamila Bio-Ibrahim said in a statement on Wednesday.
The conference is to be jointly hosted by Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and the First Lady Dr (Mrs) Olufolake AbdulRazaq.
It is themed ‘Galvanising the Will to Take Actions on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment’, featuring speakers such as the former Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; and Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen.
The conference, which is a webinar, would be broadcast live on the state-owned Radio Kwara (Midland FM 99.1) and across Kwara state government’s social media handles, as well as on Nigeria’s only Women Radio (91.7FM).
Dr Jamila Bio Ibrahim, Senior Special Assistant to Kwara State Governor on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) whose office is organising the conference, listed the speakers to include the UN Women Representative to Nigeria/ECOWAS Ms Comfort Lamptey; ECOWAS Parliament Speaker Tunis Sidie; First Lady of Ekiti State and frontline gender advocate Erelu Bisi Fayemi; and the First Lady of Sokoto State and leading gender rights campaigner Hajiyah Maryam Tambuwal.
Other speakers are Deputy Head of Mission Of Sweden to Nigeria, Ms Anna Rääs; and World Bank Country Director (Nigeria) Shubham Chaudhuri.
The conference would feature a high-level discussion geared towards shaping actions and policies to improve outcomes for women in the West African subregion, the statement added.
Kwara under AbdulRazaq has emerged a regional model of gender inclusion and women empowerment, with at least 56 per cent female cabinet members, roughly 50 per cent female permanent secretaries, and various government’s A-list agencies and departments headed by women.
In an op-ed article titled ‘Taking Action to Empower in West Africa” ahead of the confab, the Governor said the event offers a platform to push harder for gender inclusion in government and boardrooms as a strategy for inclusive growth.
“Across the globe, societies are seemingly convulsed by campaigns for greater equality on gender and identity grounds. We have an equivalent gender parity problem in West Africa. It is more straightforward in many ways but no less pressing. We must act deliberately and decisively to improve outcomes for women in order for Africa to reach its developmental goals,” he wrote.
“This is why, on Thursday, Kwara State, the Nigerian State of which I am Governor, will be hosting its first annual regional West African conference on gender equality and the empowerment of women. Timed to coincide with Nigerian Independence Day, our goal is to mobilise African leaders to galvanise the will to be ‘intentional’ about gender parity in Nigeria and the wider West African region. We are hoping the conference will herald a second ‘independence day’ for the 50% of our citizens whose interests have, historically, been deemed second priority.”