18th June, 2012
The fourth edition of the African Women in Leadership Organization has ended in The Gambia with a call on governments across Africa to give women equal opportunity and empowerment to contribute to the development of their immediate environment and the continent at large.
Lagos State Deputy Governor, Adejoke Orelope–Adefulire, who delivered a paper titled, “Respecting the Rights of African Woman”, called on African leaders to intensify efforts in the implementation of programmes and policies that can economically empower women, raise their intellectual capacity and equip them with necessary tools that will enable them to contribute meaningfully to the development agenda of the third world economies.
She added that African countries must give the women folk their rightful position in decision making and programme implementation as the continent strive to achieve economic prosperity and peaceful co-existence.
Adefulire added that the transformation agenda of the African continent is not achievable unless the women are fully integrated and empowered to contribute meaningfully to the course of Africa and Africans, noting that the population of women in Africa puts them at an advantage of being critical to the sustenance of peace and development of the region, adding that such a huge population must not be left to idle way.
According to her, ‘’ women need to be empowered and for them to make appreciable impact, they must be given the tools that will raise their intellectual, physical and mental capacity and equip them to meet changing challenges of the world. In this regards, they must be given quality education, good healthcare and the opportunity to participate actively in the political and economic activities without any hindrances”.
While giving account of the Lagos State Government activities on women empowerment, Adefulire noted that in order to promote gender equality and women development, the government had initiated a lot of programmes and policies which have better the lots of women and improve their development.
She informed that part of the programmes includes the enactment of domestic violence law, establishment of Domestic Violence Help Desk in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Establishment of a 176 bed Transit Home for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking among others.
She charged representatives of different countries at the conference to take a cue from Lagos state government by implementing policies and programmes that will help women to develop and attain their full potentials.
In her opening statement on behalf of the vice president and minister of Women’s Affairs The Gambia, Fatou Mbye, the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, thanked the organisers for choosing the country to host the conference. She described the conference as timely and relevant and noted that it creates a platform for unity, solidarity, cohesion, dialogue and networking amongst them.
According to her, empowerment of women is recognized and advocated for by international agencies such as UN in terms of their full involvement on the basis of equality in the society including their participation in the decision-making process in government and access to power which is fundamental to the achievement of equality, development as well as peace in order to advance women status in all aspects of life.”This is important because equity and equality are crucial elements that can advance women’s level of welfare,” she said.
The deputy speaker further noted that women empowerment is a process aimed at enabling women who are denied opportunities to make better choices to advance their lives. She also observed that women particularly the rural poor continue to lack some opportunities in terms of decision-making and control over resources, which makes it difficult to improve their livelihood.
“In this respect, the African continent faces difficult challenges in terms of women taking part in decision-making, access to education, employment and health services amongst others,” she noted. She informed the gathering that in The Gambia women constitute about 55% of the agricultural labour force and that they make significant contribution in the drive towards food self-sufficiency and food security.
She further noted that in the face of the global food crisis and economic meltdown, the government of The Gambia continues to pursue sound policies that seek to empower women and ensure access to education and eradicate poverty for sustainable development. Such policies, she said, include national agricultural policy, gender and development policy and national agricultural investment policy, amongst other programmes.
The conference which held from 13 June to 15 June at the Sheraton Gambia Hotels was attended by hundreds of women from all over the continent.