as First Lady commits N100m to Women-owned SMEs
Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has called for inclusive policies and stronger collaboration on programmes that will create spaces for women to be properly represented in politics and business.
The governor said this on the commemoration of the International Women’s Day (IWD) marked every March 8, by the United Nations and many other organisations across the globe.
He said that much as there are efforts to expand the frontier for women to participate in economic, politics and social institutions in society in urban and peri-urban centers, there was even a more urgent need to focus on those in rural areas who need inclusive policies, financial support and social structures to facilitate their contribution to development.
According to the governor, the imperative to press for progress across different markers of development, especially for women, and ensure spaces are created for them to achieve their potentials.
“As the world celebrates the International Women’s Day, it is important to stress the contribution of women to national development. But at the same time, it is an opportunity to call for inclusive policies and open space to address issues of gender parity. This will make it easier for women to not only reach their full potentials in politics and business, but also expand the space for representation for societal integration and growth.”
Meanwhile, the First Lady, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, has presented cheques of N50,000 to 2,000 female entrepreneurs who are into small and medium scale enterprises in the state.
Mrs Obaseki presented the soft loan cheques during the 2018 International Women’s Day celebration organised by the state’s Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, in collaboration with the Office of the Edo State First Lady in Benin City, on Thursday.
She said the initiative, which is supported by the Bank of Industry, is to assist women to grow and expand their small and medium-sized enterprises.
She said some of the beneficiaries are successful participants of the Edo Women for Agriculture and Enterprise initiative while others were drawn from several cooperative societies across the state.
“The 2000 women are going to be beneficiaries of the first phase of this scheme. Last year we empowered 500 women with poultry birds to make each of them earn at least N150,000 from the sale of eggs,” she said.
The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu launched the Betsy Obaseki After School Club (BOASC) and the Edo Women Monthly Farmers’ Market Initiative, urging women to lead the drive for economic emancipation and wealth creation.
She said the BOASC seeks to address the root of economic hardship amongst women via empowering school girls with skills in shoemaking and vehicle repairs.
“This initiative aims to build confidence in their abilities and give these girls a firm footing against traffickers who may approach them with promises of better lives abroad. 180 school girls drawn from 18 Public Secondary schools are participating in the first phase” she said.
The First Lady said the Women Farmers’ Market initiative is to promote the purchase of healthy agricultural produce as well as provide ready markets for women farmers to sell their produce directly to buyers.
She added that the theme for this year Women’s Day celebration: “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Life” was apt, noting that it reinforces the need for all hands to be on deck and work concertedly for the overall progress and stability of women.
In her remarks, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Magdalene Ohenhen, said the occasion was put together to highlight the activities, progress and problems confronting women in all aspects of their lives.
Ohenhen said women have continually been challenged by issues such as maternal and infant mortality, poverty, unemployment, low income and low participation in governance.
She, however, commended the Edo State government for mainstreaming women in governance, particularly, the appointment of female Special Assistants on Gender.