Thousands of women across the 18 local government areas of Ondo state today converged on the government house grounds, Alagbaka Akure to receive lectures, and gift items for the grandfinale of programmes organised by the wife of the governor, Arabinrin Betty-Anyanwu Akeredolu to celebrate the 2020 International Women’s Day.
The event was preceded by the distribution of birth delivery kits to one thousand pregnant women across the state yesterday, 8th March, under the SOLAYO safe motherhood initiative of the First Lady.
Addressing the women, Mrs. Akeredolu emphasised the importance of affording male and female folks equal rights and opportunities in order to ensure gender equality, stating that women were key agents for achieving the transformational, economic and social changes required for sustainable development.
In her speech which was read by the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Titi Adeyemi, the wife of the governor described the theme of this year’s celebration #EachForEqual as apt in every essence because women were still marginalised despite many international agreements to eliminate gender discrimination.
She called for a universal support for women to challenge poverty, reduce hunger and build healthier societies, saying, all hands must be on deck from grassroots activism to worldwide action.
She bemoaned discrimination against women in all forms including physical abuse from husband and brothers, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, rape, barbaric ideology that women shouldn’t be involved in a decision-making process, among others.
Mrs. Akeredolu called for an attitudinal change among women and join to forces together against all forms of violence against women.
“Women continue to be victims of rape, domestic violence and conflict. Women and girls continue to be undervalued; they work more but earn less, they have fewer choices; and experience many forms of violence at home and in public places.
“Let me urge you all to put in all efforts to end violence against women and the girl-child in your homes, offices, churches, mosques and all spheres of life”. She said.
Mrs. Akeredolu was optimistic that women could get to the peak if given the enabling environment to exhibit their potentials to the fullest, and therefore, appreciated the governor for being gender sensitive in all his programmes which were put in place to uplift the status of women and give them a voice in governance.
Earlier in her welcome address, Mrs. Titi Adeyemi had lauded the wife of the governor for her continual commitment and support for women development in the state, through her various initiatives like FOWOSO, BEMORE, SOLAYO, among others.
Speaking on the importance of IWD, the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Women mobilisation (South), Mrs. Morenike Alaka said the IWD observance was declared in 1910 by the United Nations to recognise the role of women in the society.
She explained that this year’s celebration was unique as it intended to showcase those women who had contributed their quota to the society, and to say no to archaic traditions that were used to subjugate women and to end Female Genital Mutilation.
Also on female participation in politics, a one-term gubernatorial aspirant in the state, Mrs. Olamide Falana encouraged women to support one another, be united, and eschew the Pull Her Down Syndrome, saying, doing so would prevent being relegated in the political environment.
The Special Assistant to the wife of the governor on media, Miss Tobi Fademi said the initiative of Mrs Akeredolu was aimed at encouraging women to challenge stereotypes and broaden perceptions, in order to improve their situations
Mrs. Rosemary Adegbulu who spoke on rape, enjoined parents to teach male children on the need to agree with female whenever they disagree to have sexual intercourse, rather than forcing them, and on the need to give female children appropriate sex education.
Female political appointees at the event included the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mrs. Lola Fagbemi, SSAs on women mobilisation, (Central),Mrs. Ronke Ojo, (North), Mrs. Akeju, Special Adviser to the governor on Education, Dr. Wunmi Ilawole, Special Adviser on Diaspora, Mrs. Fola Olasehinde, wives of government’s officials, among others.