By BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO
LOKOJA – Kogi State Government has made the 2018 International Women’s Day celebration a memorable one as it shelled out N15 million to empower 300 vulnerable women across the 21 LGAs of the state.
Beneficiaries of the monies include widows and wives of deceased and retired military officers, the physically challenged, the small scale business women and other women groups.
The donation was made in collaboration with the governor’s wife foundation, Kogi Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation, KOWYEF.
Speaking at the event, wife of the governor, Mrs Rashidat Bello lauded her husband for the love he has for the less privileged in the society and the level of support given to susceptible women in the state.
Mrs Bello described this year’s edition with the theme; Press for Progress, as a reminder of the need to liberate women from the shackles of poverty which informed her decision to empower the women of the state.
The Chief of Staff to the Governor, Edward Onoja who spoke on behalf of the governor said the state government has great respect for the womenfolk.
He said the Governor has put the issue of gender balance into consideration in his appointment, hence the huge number of women in his administration.
The State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Bolanle Amupitan had earlier described the impact of the present administration in providing succour for women as exemplary.
She said the governor has demonstrated his commitment to the welfare of the less privileged, given the ministry’s approval for constant training and capacity-building for women across the state, describing the gesture as laudable.
Amupitan said: “The empowerment programme for women of the state by the government is a way Governor Bello demonstrated his resolve to break new grounds on the efforts towards gender parity and economic emancipation of women.
However, a Human Rights activist, Mr. Abdul Miliki has decried the low level of women participation in the politics and governance of the state.
Miliki who is the Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Conflicts Resolution, CHRCR, said the trend must change in next year’s general elections. “We need to press for more inclusive and participation of women in all ramifications.
“For instance, in Kogi State, all the 25 members of the state Assembly are men, the 12 National Assembly members from Kogi are men, the governor and his deputy are men, all the 21 local government administrators appointed are men. Only three commissioners are women. What is the offence of Kogi women?
“As we move towards 2019 elections, efforts must be put in place to realise the 35 per cent affirmative action for women in the state.”