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Stakeholders want focus on women in new global development agenda

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(L-R) Ogwu, Maina, Gbeneol, Adefulire-Orelope

(L-R) Ogwu, Maina, Gbeneol, Adefulire-Orelope

Delegates to one of the events at the on-going United Nations (UN)-hosted 59th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) conference in New York have demanded that issues relating to women and their development demands should form the focus of the new framework being fashioned out by the global community to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Similarly, the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Adejoke Adefulire-Orelope, and other women leaders have stressed the need to ensure that women’s rights are constantly respected and the challenges facing them are effectively tackled.

Meanwhile, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), has announced arrest of 494 suspected female drug traffickers in 2014.

The position of the stakeholders at the UN event was announced at the side event with the theme: “The Role of Women Parliamentarians in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa: Lessons from the Millennium Development Goals.”

A post-MDGs agenda is expected to come into force in September at the General Assembly of the UN (UNGAS) and is expected to address the unfinished business of the MDGs, which came into operation almost 15 years ago.

Various speakers eloquently and succinctly elaborated on the imperative of mainstreaming a gender perspective into the MDGs successor agenda through the role of women parliamentarians.

Among the delegates and speakers were the Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on the MDGs, Dr. Precious Gbeneol; Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Prof Joy Ogwu; Director, United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC), Mitchell Toomey; and Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina.

According to Gbeneol, the theme of the event is apt and demonstrates a comprehension of the need to stay the course as the global community adopts a new development paradigm which leaves no one behind. She said this is especially so in view of the bearing of gender on the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. “It is thus crucial to unlock the potential latent in women and girls, as this is an indispensable condition necessary to achieve gender equality and inclusive development.

“Drawing from lessons learnt from the implementation of the MDGs in Nigeria, there is evidence that demonstrates that investing in women matters for poverty eradication. There is consensus that gender is a cross cutting issue and should remain a priority in the final push to achieve the other MDGs in the little time remaining. Nigeria lends her voice to the saying that the MDGs can only be achieved by addressing the disproportionate burden of poverty that affects women, lack of equal access to education and health services as well as lack of productive employment for women. For the avoidance of doubt and at the risk of being repetitive, we use this moment to again reiterate that gender is a determining factor in poverty-environment linkages as gender inequality, environmental deterioration and deepening poverty are mutually self-reinforcing. Improvement in any one of these three enhances livelihood, improves resilience and reduces vulnerability.”

According to Gbeneol, Nigeria, as a signatory to many international conventions targeted at improving gender equality and in accordance with the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Addis Ababa Declaration on the Elimination and Prevention of all forms of Violence Against Women and Girls as well as the Millennium Declaration, is implementing high impact interventions specifically targeted at women.

She maintained that the “Conditional cash transfer schemes reach thousands of core poor, women-headed households as an incentive that stimulates demand for the uptake of educational services for the girl child and health services for women and children. The conditional cash transfer scheme has the transfer of agricultural enterprise to women as an exit strategy in order to forestall a culture of dependency. Nigeria’s Conditional Grants Scheme provides interventions such as water and health facilities, classroom blocks and training for different cadres of health workers, amongst others.”

Gbeneol noted that though Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan has made significant strides by advancing women political empowerment, especially into appointive positions, her office continues to strive in order to expand the political space for women so as to make incursion into elective offices which are at the moment dominated by men.

“Consequently, the Nigerian Women Trust Fund launched by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs in 2011 with funding from her office provides resources for women interested in leadership to contest for elective positions. The Fund also provides a mentorship scheme for girls while interfacing with the Independent National Electoral Commission as well as political parties in order to create space and an enabling environment for women to participate in politics.”

The delegates opined that the implementation of the current MDGs framework was limited by the regrettable fact of not accommodating the views and inputs of parliamentarians, whose responsibilities it is to pass legislations and approve budgetary spending for policies at the point of framing the agenda.

Thus limited financial resources have remained the bane of the quest of countries to achieve the set goals and targets. This, they said, necessitate the need to appropriate and capture the views of the parliamentarians in the consultative process.

The Lagos State deputy governor, who was special guest of honour at an event organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), in collaboration with Women’s Optimum Development Foundation (WODEF) yesterday, said the ceremony was to celebrate womanhood and the importance of the woman in the family and society.

At the event which was held essentially to commemorate the International Women’s Day (IWD) 2015, themed: “Empowering woman, empower humanity, picture it”, Adefulire-Orelope stated that the initiative would help more women to discover themselves to be able to make positive changes politically, socially, culturally and economically.

The deputy governor, who noted that the Millennium Development Goals 1 to 7 were carefully chosen to empower women and move them to the next level, added that women have a lot to do if adequately empowered, to help themselves and bring the younger generation to limelight.

Advising the girl-child to shun distractions from all areas and concentrate on her studies, the deputy governor noted that with determination and getting the right education, the girl could attain any height in life.

National Coordinator of WODEF, Mrs. Bimbo Oloyede said: “We must spare a thought for women around the world who are challenged with fear, poverty and hunger, whose children cannot determine their faith or future.

“We must also turn our minds to the children in Buni Yadi in Yobe State and other children and women whose lives have been cut short by senseless violence. I urge you to stand in their honour because that is the least we can do.”

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade, who announced the arrest of 494 suspected female traffickers said highest numbers of females were arrested in Edo, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Anambra and Rivers states commands.

Giade who was reacting to the involvement of females in drug trafficking as the world marked International Women’s Day, said the agency would soon launch a nationwide campaign tagged “Save the Girl Child from Drug Trafficking and Abuse”. According to him, “the NDLEA is paying special attention to females because of the important role they play in the family and the society at large. The reduction in the number of females arrested in 2014 is encouraging and we hope to improve on this with a good number of drug abuse preventive programmes in the year.”



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