BY PROVIDENCE OBUH & JOY UNUANE
First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan, National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) and Friends Africa collaborated, penultimate week, with a view to addressing identified challenges facing women and girl child in Nigeria.
Speaking at the maiden Women and Girls summit held in Abuja, Jonathan said that the summit become necessary in order to urgently address the issues of Education, Health, Safety and Security and Economic Empowerment facing women and girls in the country.
She pointed out that there is the need for a deliberate and continuous effort in ensuring the safety, development and empowerment of women and girls, adding that despite the increased role that women and girls play in the growth and development of the nation’s economy it is acknowledged that development programmes haven’t completely met the need of this select group.
According to her, “There is no meaningful development without women, therefore individuals and corporate organisations in Nigeria must continue to support and partner with women to realise the goals and objectives of the summit”
Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, said, “With the support of well-meaning Nigerians, women will be able to care for themselves, contribute to the development of their families, communities and the nation”
“We cannot claim to be developing if we do not recognise the sacrifices women and girls have to make. From the Aba Women Riot of 1929 over double taxation by the then colonial administration, the fortunes of women and girls have continued to improve as a result of access to education. Women and girls represent the heartbeat of any nation. Our women and girls hold the key to the untapped potentials of this great country,” Maina said.
Director-General, National Centre for Women Development, Lady Onyeka Onwenu, said that the summit was a “game changer” in policy planning and implementing programmes for the Girl-Child and women in the country.
She urged policy makers on the important issues of the girl-child, saying that there should be a platform for high level discourse on the challenges confronting women and girls in Nigeria.
On her part, Founder, Friends Africa, Dr. Akudo Ikemba, said that the role of women in the field of sustainable development has already been acknowledged globally, “girls are change agents”, they play a crucial role in solving the most persistent development problems facing the world today. By investing in their economic potential through education, issues such as HIV and AIDS can be resolved and the cycle of poverty can be broken.”
The summit is designed to be an annual event had in attendance over 1,000 women and girls, decision makers, leading gender advocates, technical experts and leaders from international organizations focused on developing an all-inclusive policy framework that will help government achieve its objectives in addressing the immediate and long term needs of the Girl-Child