Lokoja – The First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan, on Thursday called on Nigerian women to champion the cause of peace in finding a lasting solution to the security challenges in the country.
The first lady made the call in Lokoja while addressing delegates to the 15th regular meeting of the National Council on Women Affairs and Social Development.
She called for more women participation in addressing the remote causes of the widespread violence now pervading some parts of the country.
“I want to urge you to rise up individually and collectively against the security challenges confronting our nation, considering the negative impacts on the womenfolk and the society at large.
“I want to urge you to take advantage of the opportunity to champion the cause of peace and conflict resolution and for more women participation in issues relating to us,’’ she said.
Mrs Jonathan called on women to rise up with the firm resolution of providing an environment where peace could reign and women rights freely-expressed.
She said that, although women had achieved appreciable progress in the country, they should still work towards the attainment of the 35 per cent affirmative action across board.
“The priority for us women at this time is for a renewed push for women’s economic empowerment and massive political participation.,’’
The first lady said that not only would an abused environment fail to support effective economic activities, but would also breed social problems like crimes and unemployment.
“In the case of Nigeria, environmental degradation merging with threat of terrorism and human trafficking had been undermining the efforts at promoting peace and rights of women,” she noted.
She assured that the NGO, ‘Women for Change and Development Initiative,’ would continue to champion opportunities of women and the girl child.
The first lady urged the meeting to come up with concrete policies that could positively affect the lives of women and children in the country.
Also speaking, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina, said the council had in the last two years awarded the construction of 77 skills acquisition centres.
She said that out of the centres spread across the country, 24 had been completed out of which two were ready for commissioning.
“Installation of modern equipment is ongoing at 13 centres and when completed, it will reduce unemployment, address other associated social vices and increase income generation for women.
“Within this same period, the ministry in conjunction with the National Centre for Women Development, had trained over 9, 210 in various vocational skills.
“The ministry also facilitated over N270 million as micro credit to 3, 329 women cooperative groups.
“We have also made available to 20 prevalent states in the country, equipment for rehabilitation of victims of Vesico Vaginal Fistula(VVF).
“We have also made available about N6.2 million to five NGOs to reach out to over 1, 000 vulnerable women at the grassroots,” she explained.
The minister appealed to other 13 states which were yet to pass the Child Rights Act into law to do so without further delay.
Gov. Idris Wada of Kogi said his administration had supported women in the state and given priority to their welfare.
He said the Child Rights Act had been signed into law and family court established while 35 per cent of all appointive positions ceded to women in the state.
Mrs Jonathan also commissioned some projects, including the new ultra-modern stadium in Lokoja.
The theme of the meeting was “Environmental Degradation: A Challenge to Sustainable Development and Empowerment of Women and the Vulnerable Groups.’’(NAN)