Int'l Women's Day: Obaseki launches N1bn fund for women


Godwin Obaseki

Godwin Obaseki

By Jethro Ibileke/Benin

Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has launched a N1 billion fund for the empowerment of women in the state.

This is even as wife of the governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, has called on government at all levels across the country to enact policies that will favour women, to cushion the impact of the Coronavius (Covid-19) pandemic.

She stated this on Monday in Benin, during the celebration of the 2021 International Women’s Day.

The event which was held at the new Festival Hall of the Government House, was put together by the Office of the Wife of the Governor, and the Edo State Ministry of Women Affairs, in collaboration with German Organisation (GIZ), and an Edo state-based Agro-company Farmforte.

It has the theme: Addressing the vulnerabilities of women in a Covid-19 era.

Speaking at the event, Governor Obaseki said he observed from the data currently being gathered across the state, that a lot of women lost their means of livelihood and business capital due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

This, he said necessitated his decision to establish the 1 billion naira women’s support fund.

“This morning, as our response, I launch our own gift to women of Edo state, a N1 billion fund for widows and vulnerable women whose livelihoods have been grievously affected as a result of Covid-19.

“We will immediately seed that fund with N250 million and work with our financial and non financial partners to raise the balance.

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“The fund will be managed professionally not politically, mostly by women, to address that group of very vulnerable women, because if we do not, the consequences in our society will be too dire,” the governor said.

Earlier in her address, the state First Lady, Mrs. Obaseki, noted that responsible governments around the world are enacting policies to cushion the effect of the Covid-19 lockdown on women.

She therefore urged government and political leaders at all levels to be more sensitive to the needs and plight of women across Nigeria, as they suffered the most in the past one year.

Commenting on the high incidence of gender-based violence during the Covid-19 lockdown, Mrs. Obaseki remarked that the families have a major role to play in raising their boys to respect girls and women.

She thereafter used the occasion to launch phase 3 of the Edo Women for Agriculture and Enterprise (EWAEN) Scheme, in collaboration with Farmforte, an integrated agro based company.

The collaboration will see 4,000 women empowered in agriculture and businesses, whose produce will be off-taken by Farmforte.

The Managing Partner of Farmforte, Mr Osazuwa Osayi, noted that “one major problem farmers face in the continent is access to markets. Thus the company plans to smoothen the process for women farmers in Edo State to have guaranteed access to market.”

The Team Lead, Programme Migration for Development GIZ Nigeria, Mrs. Sandra, noted that Nigeria has one of the lowest rates of female entrepreneurs in sub-saharan Africa.

She further disclosed that GIZ seeks to address issues of gender inequality by working with relevant organizations in the public and private sectors that can contribute to a better future for the Nigerian woman.

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