The 18th National Council on Women Affairs and Social Development (NCWASD) was last week, held in Lagos, where major challenges confronting Nigerian women and other social development issues were again addressed with a common consensus to politically, socially and economically improve the status of women in Nigeria. Muritala Ayinla reports
They gathered from every part of the country to deliberate on issues affecting women, children, widows, and people living with disabilities as well other social issues in Nigeria. Their goals were to design a template with which government could effectively tackle identified issues confronting women and meeting other Millennium Development Goals.
They are bodies of states’ Commissioners for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation or Social Developments, as some states will call it. They are the nation’s highest policymaking forum of on issues pertaining to women, children, persons living with disabilities, the aged and other vulnerable groups. They discuss the emerging issues in the sector and develop implementation strategies for promotion and protection of the right and welfare of the aforementioned groups of Nigerians.
At the meeting held in Academy Inn, Agindingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, were the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan; Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Ifeoma Anagbogu; the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Lola Akande; Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministary of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Abiola Liadi. Other representatives from World Bank, National Drug Law enforcement Agency, National Centre for Diseases Control, UNIDO,Bank of Agriculture, National Bureau of Statistics, Bank of Industry among others were in attendance.
Speaking at the event, the Minister for Women Affairs commended Governor Ambode and the people of Lagos for hosting the 18th edition of the conference, saying that the state has demonstrated its hospitality with the memorable reception given to the participants.
According to her, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development recorded various levels of implementation based on the agreement reached during the 2017 edition that was held in Sokoto State. “For instance, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in collaboration with the British Council through the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Committee conducted the election of the 6th National Children parliament as part of the participatory rights of the children as enshrined in the CRA 2013. It gives children voice and right to participate actively in all the programmes that affect them.
“We call on states that have not renew their children parliament to please do so. The National Child Right Implementation Committee was also inaugurated in May 2017 to ensure the implementation of the Rights of the Child under the Act and all other instruments such as the African Charter of the Right of the Child and UN Convention on the Right of the Child. This is in addition to the high-level advocacy visits I have undertaken to the various states that have domesticated the Law,” the minister said.
Governor Ambode who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello described the theme of the council meeting, ‘Peace, Security and Social Inclusion: Key building Blocks for Achieving Economic Growth and Sustainable Development”, as not only apt but also speaks directly to the critical issues that determines the level of prosperity that can be attained by any society.
The governor said that since inception of his administration, security of lives and property has been priority, adding that the state would continue to ensure growth development of the state’s economy in every facet. He assured that the state would continue to invest significantly on safety and security as no economy can thrive in atmosphere characterized by fear chaos, and general insecurity.
He however urged the women to join the state in waging war against sexual and gender based violence by advocating for review of laws and to provide stiffer punishment for offenders, given the serious threat the evil act poses to safety and security of women and girl child.
Also speaking, the Lagos state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Lola Akande, reiterated the state’s commitment to empowering women, especially the informal sector that women constituted majority, assuring that the government would also facilitate socio-economic inclusion.
Other speakers from the participating states and multi-national agencies also harped on the support and efforts to enhance condition of living for women, children and other vulnerable.
Meanwhile, the women after the meeting issued a communiqué which read: “Minister/Commissioners of Women Affairs and Social Development, along with their teams identified issues at various levels of governments and relevant stakeholders, to fast track implementation. Implementations of: Support for more women to participate in politics at all levels at the forth coming democratic electoral process; Creation of gender desks in all MDAs at all levels and mainstream gender issues in budgeting; Establishment of Rehabilitation and reopening of the Nigeria Farm Craft Centre for the Blind, with each student paying N120,000 as annual fees with effect from 2018, altogether N240,000 for the duration of their stay in the school.
The women in the communiqué also wanted the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development to write to all States to take over the Skill Acquisition Centres. It also called Establishment of National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) Nodal Desk in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT as well as involvement of State Ministries of Women Affairs (SMWA) and State Ministries of Education (SMoE) as critical stakeholders in tracking the impact of the Home Grown School Feeding Programme in the promotion of the rights of the Child to Education.
Other issues raised in the communiqué were :”Advocacy on Violence Against Children (VAC) and Child Rights Act (CRA) should be intensified by all stakeholders; Institutionalization of Menstrual Hygiene Management, as well as Sanitation programme at the Federal and State Ministries; Expansion of the age limit of the children to be sensitized on the campaign on health and reproductive rights of women from 05 to 19 years with age appropriate messages.”
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