Academics

A LECTURE DELIVERED BY THE WIFE OF ONDO STATE GOVERNOR, MRS OLUKEMI MIMIKO ON ” WOMEN DEVELOPMENT IN ONDO STATE” AT THE 4TH RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT OF THE ADEKUNLE AJASIN UNIVERSITY, AKUNGBA AKOKO TODAY 6TH OF JUNE, 2016

Protocol

INTRODUCTION

Women, with special emphasis on Africa and developing countries have always been exploited and neglected for ages. They are always victims of suppression under religious bigotry, social stigma, narrow-mindedness, unpaid labour and discrimination in a male dominated society and the Nigerian woman has had her fair share down the lane. The role of Nigerian women changed with time from its pre-colonial persistence level to its participatory level currently, which at best is still not sufficiently emphasized. The Socio-economic state of the geographical region now Nigeria, during the pre-colonial era was basically subsistence and Women of that time participated effectively not only as wives and mothers, but in the domestic sector. Although subdued to male authority, Women were key participants in commerce, production and agricultural sectors, which was evident in the nature of trade of those times basically production of palm oil, Adire fabrics, fish drying in the coastal areas, Garri processing, pottery making, fertility goddesses etc. spread across the geographical area Nigeria.

The Colonial Period was export characterized and undermined the impact of women in the society. Produce from their farms, craft and services majorly rendered by women were taken up by colonial masters as witnessed in the formation of trading companies like John Holts, UAC, LEVER Brothers, etc. Men were appointed administrators of these business groups, cooperative societies, etc. thus creating the emergence of political gap and relevance between the male and womenfolk. Although Africa as a whole gives credence to Men as rulers and women subjective to them, the colonial era further widened this gap.  For instance, it was not until the 50’s that Nigeria witnessed women participation in Administration and Politics when the western house of Chief appointed Chief Mrs. Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti while the Eastern House appointed Chief Margaret Ekpo and Janet Mokelu. The Post Colonial Period has shown increase in the participation of women in all strata of life, ranging from politics, administration, public and private sector involvement but is still largely undermined by poor education, religion, cultural and traditional beliefs, discrimination, poverty, health an Human right factors.

It is however aimed that this paper will discussWOMAN AND DEVELOPMENT; the important role women have, and do play in the socio economic development of our society today. Therefore, this lecture will address amongst others, the questions of

What are the evidence bases to support investing in Women?What are the current challenges on realizing the full potentials of women in the process of development?What role do I play as wife of GovernorWhat has been achieved so far

However it is important to state that this succinct discussion cannot be comprehensively discussed in this paper neither can it be definitive but suggests a continuous robust research from time to time.

In order to delve into this topic properly, an overview of the evolution of thinking aroundWOMEN AND DEVELOPMENT is most necessary.
EVOLUTION OF WOMEN AND DEVELOPMENT

Research carried out in the 1970s particularly for developing countries showed clearly that African farmers noted that far from being gender neutral, development was gender blind and could harm women. Out of this realization, emerged the Women In Development (WID) approach, which constructed the problem of development as being women’s exclusion from a benign process. Women subordination was seen as having its roots in their exclusion from conscious developmental issues, their limited access to and control of resources. It thereby became imperative that through legislative means, women were to be strategically involved in development by directly limiting discrimination and promoting their involvement in education and employment.

While (WID) approach was partly celebrated, it was heavily dependent on the execution and implementation by the chauvinistic structure of most African government on one part and definition of what were termed women’s role/responsibilities on the other hand. An example is providing better access to portable water for women which would reduce the amount of time women spends on domestic activities and thus allow for more time for education and gainful employment but failed to address why fetching water should majorly be a responsibility of the woman or girl child.

In the 1980s the Gender and Development approach arose out of the criticism of the WID. GAD recognizes that gender roles and relations are key to improving women’s lives, with the term “Gender” suggesting that a focus on both women and men is needed. That is rather than focusing on roles perceived to be exclusive to women, the approach seeks to eliminate limitation/discrimination on women rights.

The 90’s witnessed the “rise of rights as numerous NGOs and agencies adopted rights based approach to development clearly stating that the rights of women and demands are legitimate claims and aren’t second to men’s.
WHAT ARE THE EVIDENCE BASE TO SUPPORT INVESTING IN WOMEN

Investing in human capital, health and education, of women and girls is undoubtedly a key way forward as witnessed by the MDGs. The logic is that ‘educated, healthy women are more able to engage in productive activities, find formal sector employment, earn higher incomes and enjoy greater returns to schooling than are uneducated women.

1. Educated women are more likely to invest in the education of their own children and they are also more likely to have fewer children. While it is noted that governments of most countries have focused on ensuring the equal access of girls to primary education. Inequality of access, to primary, secondary and higher education persists greatly in developing countries, as does the limited engagement of girls in the study of science and technology, limiting the future life and employment options of adolescent girls.

Willingness to educate, feed, and provide healthcare to girls is far more strongly determined by income and the costs of providing these services than is the case for boys. Families are often unwilling to invest in the education of girls if this investment is not perceived as bringing them direct economic gains — girls are valued only as wives and mothers, and/or marriage transfers any potential future gains from this investment to another family. Early and forced marriage remains a key issue and an important factor, limiting young women’s engagement in both education and economic activities.

2. Justice institutions, from the police to the courts, continue to deny women’s right to justice. Women and girls remain unable to access justice, given that in many countries there are still laws that discriminate against women in relation to the family, property, citizenship and employment. Justice systems also do not meet the needs of specific groups of women, such as indigenous women who are discriminated against and face violence in the public and private spheres based on both gender and race.

3. Cultural factors limit women’s rights and engagement in the workplace. Religion still has a key role to play in determining gender norms in many cultures and fundamentalist views across the spectrum of religions threaten or deny women’s rights, including rights related to sex and sexualities, and to mobility and employment. Economic fundamentalism, policies and practices that privilege profits over people, also deny women their rights as workers and to work. While political culture is important for bringing progressive change, women continue to have a limited voice at the local and national levels, and women are not able to fully participate in formal systems of power. In the majority of cultures unequal gender and generational relations exist within households with the male ‘head’ having a high level of control.

4. A woman going out to work is often read by others as meaning the man is unable to provide for his family, making men reluctant and thus limiting women’s engagement in paid work through violence or the threat of violence. When women do engage in paid work, it can improve their voice in the home and ability to influence household decision-making. It can also lead to conflict in the home, especially if women earn more than men, or women’s employment coincides with men’s unemployment. In the last decades, a ‘crisis in masculinity’ has been recognized, relating to the changes in men’s roles and positions through processes of globalization, suggesting a need to focus attention on men if these changes are to bring transformative progress towards greater equality, rather than further harm women. Women continue to suffer limited mobility and, in some cultures, women are not able to leave the home if not accompanied by a man, effectively negating any type of paid employment. Even when women are allowed to leave, they may face verbal, sexual and physical abuse from unknown males for being in the street and face gossip and stigma within their own communities.

5. One in three women across the globe will experience violence at some stage in her lifetime. Violence against women and girls, or the threat of violence, be it physical, sexual or emotional, both in the private and public spheres, at the hands of known and unknown men, While remunerated work is important for women, it is important to remember that women still undertake the bulk of unpaid work in the home, household plot, or family business. They have the primary responsibility for caring for children and older people as well responsibility for undertaking activities such as collection of water or firewood. Women play the key role in the ‘care economy’, which not only provides care to the young, old and the sick, but also is vital for ensuring a productive workforce. As this work is not remunerated, it is undervalued and lies outside general conceptualizations of the economy. Women engaged in paid work often face a double work day, since they may only be ‘allowed’ to work as long as their domestic duties are still fulfilled. This means women are time poor and the time burden may impact on their health and wellbeing. To alleviate this burden and free women to enter paid work, daughters may be taken out of school to cover the domestic work, with related negative impacts on their education and ability to seek remunerated work in the future.

6. Women’s continued inability to control their own fertility means that childbirth limits their ability to engage in productive activities. Even when reproductive health services are provided, this is not enough to ensure women’s ability to access them. Men may see the decision over if and when to have children to be their sole right to make, and large numbers of children may be read as a sign of male fertility and power, which becomes more important when masculinity is threatened. In many cultures, discussion of sexualities remains taboo, denying access and rights to those who do not conform to the conventional ‘norm’ of male domination. The sexual and reproductive rights of adolescent girls in particular may be overlooked and they may be denied access to reproductive health services if they are unmarried. Research establishes a link between education and women’s ability to control their fertility.

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT CHALLENGES ON REALISING THE FULL POTENTIALS OF WOMEN IN THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT

A saying goes thus “Man (Human Being) is a product of is environment”. It portends therefore that how well the environment is harnessed will determine the quality of life to be lived.

Sustainable development rest majorly on maintaining long term economic, social and environmental capital. While it is important to invest in economic asset to assure progress and bring about growth, special attention should be on human capabilities for such growth and development. In failing to judiciously optimize the potentials of any part of human population, particularly female, most countries have underinvested in the human capital needed to assure developmental attainment and sustainability.

Women’s ability to escape poverty is more constrained than men’s due to the fact that they bear the burden of unpaid labor, and have limited market opportunities, as well as less access to education, Women in majority of countries, still face the burden of caring for children and performing housework, which is often an obstacle to expanding women’s ‘productive’ economic activities and engaging in political action.

Although women account for over one-half of the potential talent base globally as a group, they have been marginalized and their economic, social and environmental contributions go in large part unrealized.

At the 1995 women’s conference in Beijing, attendees came up with list of areas that required urgent attention to bring about a turn around that would improve the lives of women and justify why women should be invested in for socio-economic and environmental growth and development as follows;

Poverty: Women make up a disproportionate share of the world’s growing poor. Women now constitute 70% of the world’s 1.2 billion poor. This extra burden stems from an absence of economic opportunities and autonomy, land ownership and inheritance, education and support services and minimal participation in decision-making.

Education: Although primary enrollment rates are the same among boys and girls, secondary and tertiary enrollment is competed against by culture, religion and general belief in inferiority of the girl child. Dropout rates are much higher among girls even in elementary schools.

Health: Women are the fastest growing group of HIV-infected adults, cancer and other non-communicable diseases.  Each year, at least half a million women die from complications due to pregnancy, and another 700,000 due to unsafe abortions.

Violence: Violence against women is a global problem. In Africa, in unaccountable number of times, women are physically abused and assaulted while incidence of rape is skyrocketing. According to survey, most African women are victims of domestic violence at work, homes,  schools and generally in the society.

Armed and Other Conflicts: Women often have no decision-making power during global conflicts. They are the victims of torture, disappearance and systematic rape as a weapon of war. Women and children constitute 75% of over 6 million refugees as experienced in the North of Africa, seeking passage into Europe due largely to war and famine.

Economic Participation: Women are mostly stifled at the corporate levels and largely perceived as lacking the cerebral capacity to compete in the male dominated environment. Women are strongly discouraged from decision-making positions that involve economics.

National and International Machineries: Women in developing countries often lack the tools that are needed for advancement. They need to be educated in how to use technology in order to become introduced into mainstream society.

Human Rights: Women are granted all basic human rights but often lack the ability to exercise them fully. Women’s rights are still not secure in countries that haven’t adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Environment and Development: Women, since they are left to be responsible for food and household management, are naturally more concerned about the environment.

The Girl Child: In many countries, girl children are discriminated against from the day they are born, on into adulthood. They are often treated as inferiors. Girls are less likely to be encouraged and supported, thus continuing the cycle of dependency.

These are key areas that can be addressed by government, international organizations, communities and individuals to improve the status of women and invariably our society.

WHAT ROLE DO I PLAY AS WIFE OF GOVERNOR IN DEVELOPMENT

The role of the Wife of Governor or First Ladyas it is widely and usually referred to is an unofficial title and her office is not recognized by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. However, her roles as a social activist, official face on immunization and other health and education related matters cannot be over emphasized.

Beyond the glamour and panache, attached with Wives of Governors and their offices, a whole lot is expected of them and Such persons will have to design a functional structure to address not only what the society expects morally and culturally but also the dictates of the laws of the land as it affects her citizens with emphasis on women and the girl child. Although, the role of the wife of governor is not entrenched in the constitution, her positive contribution to governance cannot be quantified and forms a greater portion of our unpaid labour. Aside her traditional role as a wife and mother, she mediates as a

Peace MakerBridge BuilderCare givers in the areas of immunization etc.And role model in moral and educational quarters

It is my hope that in the nearest future, the roles of First Lady at the three tiers of government will enjoy legislative inclusion in our constitution.

Nevertheless, Upon assumption of office by my husband, His Excellency, Dr. Rahman Olusegun Mimiko, I as his wife, first and foremost had to align my interest with the work plan by his government through conscious effort and planning to ensure success for His administration in all areas of intervention.

The acronym A CARING HEART, encapsulate the policy thrust of the Dr. Olusegun Mimiko led administration. A government that is people oriented, bringing succor to the less privileged in the society, building bridges to gap the wide divide between the haves and have not’s.

Amongst others, I identified the following areas as core support areas as Wife of Governor to enhance development for the state, with special focus on Women and the Girl Child.

Building Capacity and Empowering the WomenfolkAdvocating for adequate women involvement in governancePromoting Girl Child EducationEnsuring that Constitutional and Fundamental rights of Women and Children are Upheld.Collaborating with relevant Health agencies on immunization.Promoting qualitative care services to reduce infant and maternal mortality.Advocacy and Campaign against health and societal ills.Campaign against Preventable or treatable infectious diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles and HIV/AIDS.Campaign against Non-Communicable disease such as Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer, etc.Collaborating with NGOS and CBOS on the empowerment and well being of women and the girl child.Campaign against Child Labor, Child trafficking and Child Abuse.

While it was easier to relate with government and other agencies (e.g. FIDA, OSCFETEF, NOA, NCWS, Female Professionals, Women in Agriculture etc.) on constitutionally inclined cases in issues affecting women, children and the girl child, it was quite challenging to tackle problems faced by indigent women in the society, a huge problem that has refused all palliatives.

I decided to make formal the MaternalPulse Foundation; it was with the intension of meeting the earlier itemized goals by starting a small project to help women and children attain better and qualitative access to healthcare in Ondo State. I could never have imagined that it would expand and have such a far-reaching impact on my husband’s constituents and beyond.

MaternalPulse Foundation is an (NGO) designed to provide strategic support for various initiatives poised to tackle multi-faceted societal ills. MPF is committed to repositioning the good people of Ondo State, with meaningful and impactful intervention with key focus on women and children.

MaternalPulse Foundation has been set up to advocate for the total wellbeing of the Mother and Child, which includes providing support for Maternity clinics and hospitals, support for quality education in our schools, through a deliberate approach at encouraging our young ones to improve on their reading habits, with special focus on the girl child, Awareness on Breast and Cervical Cancer, support for families with multiple births, physically challenged, widows amongst others.

Although MPF has been in existence and operational for many years, giving succour to indigent people, it was formally presented to the good people of Ondo State in February 2011 by my humble self.

Focus Areas

Gbebiro Health ScreenBreast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP)Basic Education for ChildrenMaternal Health/ Medical assistanceWomen Empowerment

GBEBIRO HEALTH SCREEN: GBEBIRO health screen is an initiative of MaternalPulse Foundation and the office of Her Excellency the wife of Governor, Mrs Olukemi Mimiko which commenced in July 2010.  Gbebiro which hitherto used to be meeting of women from the 18 L.G.As of the state converging at the state capital monthly has also been decentralized, taking the entire team, comprising of health workers, lecturers, and welfare team etc. to the local governments on a monthly basis thereby interfacing and taking governance to the door steps of our women in the state.

The health screen as since metamorphosed from mere health screening to the introduction of seminars, capacity building and counseling programmes on a wide range of topics, boiling on health matters, educational matters, entrepreneurial skills, lifestyle and diet.

The inaugural health screen was at Ifedore L.G.A on the 27th of July 2010. In all, 201 women were screened for high blood pressure and 37 of them, i.e. 18.4% of them were hypertensive and were placed on drugs and referred to their various local government health centers for follow up treatments. Since then, all L.G.A’s have been visited, with visitation to some twice and over 132,000 women tested for hypertension and diabetics, while over 4000 and 312 have been treated respectively.

BREAST AND CERVICAL CANCER PROGRAMME (BCCP) An initiative of MPF provides education, case management and specific screening and diagnostic services for women who meet program guidelines as a means to improve community health status associated with the incidence and mortality linked to breast and cervical cancers.

The incidence of breast cancer in Nigeria is on the increase just like in most developing countries and particularly in Ondo State.MPF has been pivotal in the campaign for awareness and need to go for regular check-ups in partnership with the State Ministry of Health and Gani Fawehinmi Diagnostic Centre. The role of this project is to enroll eligible women into program for free services: a Clinical Breast Exam (CBE), pelvic exam & PAP test, and mammogram, according to program guidelines.

MPF gives financial and emotional support to women fighting this scourge of non- communicable disease. Most times we stand with them until the evil day of total submission to illness and this is so because our people stay too late before crying out. Nevertheless, there are few times where we hold the hands of survivors’ who emerge winners out of the dark corridors of battle with the scourge.

The BCCP Program is designed for Women ages 40 to 64 for breast services. Women ages 35 to 64 for cervical services. However, necessary assistance is in place for younger, symptomatic women.

BASIC EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN: Quality education has been on the slide in our society, since the mid-eighties, owing to non/irregular payment of teacher’s salaries leading to perpetual strike actions, degrading societal and mentorship programs, corruption and lack of good and resourceful leadership, harsh socio-economic realities of our society, amongst others.

These factors and many more have dealt a big blow to the Nigerian Educational sector resulting in poor performance rate in WAEC and JAMB, high incidence of exam malpractices etc. and only deliberate efforts at abating this can rescue the future, our children.

It is in view of this that MaternalPulse Foundation seeks to revitalize our school age pupils through the introduction of “Back to Reading & Mentoring Programme”.

A programme designed to provide students with learning aids that will not only fascinate them to studying, but also prepare them for global competiveness. MPF’s achievements in this sphere so far includes, organizing essay writing and age grade competition, free summer holiday classes for students on vacation, in the areas of academics, ICT, Tie and Dye, Music, Sports, Fashion, Snail rearing, etc.

In addition to that, the Children end of year party carried out by the office of the wife of Governor has been changed to Children’s End of year activities. The end of year event which hitherto was just about merriment and fun fare, has been changed to include distribution of learning aids and educational materials to all the 18 local government areas of state, through a decentralized system of visiting all the senatorial districts of the state, where children from local governments in a senatorial district would conglomerate. Recently, a kiddies competition was endorsed by MPF, whereby pupils and students from over 50 schools across the state came together under KIDSCON to compete, educate and entertain their audience.

MATERNAL HEALTH AND MEDICAL ASSISTANCE: The deaths of new-born babies in Nigeria represent a quarter of the total number of deaths of children under-five. The majority of these occur within the first week of life, mainly due to complications during pregnancy and or in the process of delivery, reflecting the intimate link between newborn survival and the quality of maternal care. Main causes of neonatal deaths are birth asphyxia, severe infection including tetanus and premature birth.

Similarly, a woman’s chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria is 1 in 13. Although many of these deaths are preventable, the coverage and quality of health care services in Nigeria continue to fail women and children. This shows the close relationship between the well-being of the mother and the child, and justifies the need to integrate maternal, new-born and child health interventions.

This situation is further worsened by the three delays, which are: Delay in accessing the health facility, delay in receiving care at a health facility and delay in the referral when need be.

Other major causes include obstructed labor, infections, pregnancy induced hypertension and complications of unsafe abortion not to mention the high level of ignorance and the crucial part religious beliefs and local unorthodox midwives play. There must be a growing awareness about maternal mortality, and it is not only about having nice clinics, it is also about advocacy and to see how women and girls are very vulnerable and why we have to raise this issue on maternal mortality rates and to see the causes behind it. You can of course go on about poverty and lack of resources but it is also about making alternatives not to become pregnant and to offer women the opportunity to choose for themselves.

MPF in her quest to reduce the high incidence of infant and maternal mortality rate in our society embarks on awareness programmes from time to time, training and enlightening women on hygiene, early signs of pregnancy, steps to take during pregnancy and after delivery, immunization, roll back malaria campaign, the use of insecticidal treated mosquito nets, transmission of HIV/AIDS in mother to child, etc.

Her Excellency, Mrs Olukemi Mimiko in support of the Mother and Child Hospital, produced 5000 copies of educational video compact disc, narrated in Yoruba and subtitled in English to enlighten women on steps to take, before conception, prenatal and post natal, tagged 7 STEPS TO SAFE DELIVERY, 20,000 fliers educating pregnant women on hygiene, using MaternalPulse Foundation has her platform.

Other Medical Interventions includes;

Provision of motorized and manual wheel chairs to the physically challengedPayment of Medical bills for the less PrivilegedProvision of welfare and necessary assistance to families with multiple birthRehabilitation of victims of violent/domestic abuse or abandonment.Provision of financial support and management of victims of auto and fire accidents.Donation of drugs and health materials to Hospitals, Orphanages and less privileged in of the state.Quarterly provision of basic welfare and house hold materials to special schools and homes.Provision of quality education for orphans through personal scholarshipRegular support to widows. Etc.

It is however fascinating that interventions carried out by MPF are not restricted to the state only, but to other states and treatment abroad. MPF has so far sent for treatment, 2 kids of under 10 years to India for surgery of hole in the heart and Down syndrome. Both Children are back in the country Hale and hearty. Over 700 cases of varying ailments have been attended to since 2009.

Over 50 families of triplets have been attended to, with the very first attended to in 2009. (Find attached pictures)

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT: The African woman is undoubtedly the backbone of the African family and their role is often underestimated by the society. Against this backdrop, MPF in her quest to support the desire for better life and ensure gender equality for our women develops and implements empowering programmes for women in our society, which includes but not limited to;

Workshops on skill acquisitionStart-up capital for small scale business enterprisesDistribution of small-scale business equipment’s such as grinding machines, Salon Dryers, generating sets, etc.Financial support to widows

Most of the interventions are carried out on the Gbebiro platform provided for in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED SO FAR FOR OUR WOMEN TO ENTRENTH DEVELOPMENT.

Women are obviously pivotal to the growth and development experienced by any society and the injustice, discrimination, violence, suppression/oppression, inequality, lack of education, poverty, etc. meted to women has eroded her importance thereby short changing the society of the necessary input to enhance development.

The clamor for fair treatment of women and gender balance in our societies do not necessarily take away any power from the masculine gender but provide confidence for the woman to play her role, which is usually underestimated in the society.

In my role as a Woman, Wife, Mother and First Lady, a whole lot has been highlighted for the purpose of developing the womenfolk for sustainable development to be entrenched in the society, the course has been challenging and a lot has been achieved; the task is nevertheless far from being over.

In over 7 years, I am pleased to state that I have with the collaborations of the State Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of health, Religious Outfits, CEGIST, OSCFETEF, FOMWOM, POWA, Girl to Women Initiative, ASWHAN, COWAN, NCWS, Future and Child Foundation, BOT Foundation, Chevron Ltd Professional bodies, Iyalojas and market women, various organized female organizations and obviously my Foundation, Maternal Pulse achieved tremendous results in the following areas:

HealthEducationAgricultureEmpowermentSocial Justice

Health: This covers a wide range of interventions ranging from support for the physically challenged, Victims of burns, cancer patients, accident victims, payment of medical bills, support and management of various ailment to management, treatment and medical surgery for indigents abroad.

It is crucial to note that during this period,

5 patients were sent abroad for medical surgeries with all cost borne by my Foundation.Cancer Screening was carried out for 327 Women inclusive of follow up cost for further investigation in 45 cases.Delivery packs, mattresses, carrier bags, drugs, diapers, etc. donated to Hospitals across the State.Donations and supply of basic needs to the Children’s Home Oba-ile and the states 9 special institutions, in the last 7 yearsDeworming exercise for pupils from Akure North and South L.G.A’S in partnership with Chevron Ltd.Provision of Wheel Chairs and other walking aids to physically challenged.Production and distribution 5000 cd’s on steps to safe delivery to women.Management and payment of numerous medical bills.Visitation, Support, Provision of foodstuff, clothes, funds and medical aid to 51 families with triplets and quadruplets.

The intervention on health is in exhaustive and I cannot fully highlight what has been achieved but more remains to be done.

EDUCATION: The importance of education is undeniably crucial in the lives of everyone and its impact undoubtedly panacea to human growth and development in which women and the girl child cannot be left out. In the course of eight years thereabout, the following were achieved.

Summer Classes put in place in partnership with Girls to Women research development center.Provision and donation of books and writing materials to various schools.Encouragement of students to read widely.Financial support to Girls school. St Monica’s Ondo, Fiwasaye Secondary Akure, St Louis Akure and St Louis Ikere as initial beneficiaries.Payment of school fees of over 800 Students between 2009 to date in various institutions across Nigeria and beyond.Enlightenment of women from across the 18 L.G.A during the Monthly Gbebiro Meeting on various topics, ranging from Health to Civic and Social environmental issues.

AGRICULTURE: In 2011, women were not only educated on the importance of farming but were also supported through provision of seedlings, and financial support to female farmers. Female farmers also supported in poultry, snail rearing and production of Honey to better compete in the ever capital intensive male dominated business.

EMPOWERMENT: The nucleus family is the core-determining factor for growth and development of any society and the woman of such homes serves as captains and steer the home rightly or wrongly particularly in the African Context. Women’s role in the homes are that of a supporter but in developing nations and Nigeria in particular, the man of the house is usually faced with the hardship and hazards of third world countries and are often lost untimely to War, accidents, communal and land disputes etc. and the woman is often left to cater for the children despite difficulty of culture and customs as it affects them. It is in light of this that I, as a matter of compulsion takes it upon myself to ensure that our women are adequately empowered, supported, trained in craft and vocations. In over 7 years we were able to achieve the following:

In collaboration with the Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development to give grants to women across the 18 L.G.A were given loans for various business ventures.In collaboration with the State Micro Credit Agency, women across the 18 L.G.A were given loans for various business ventures.In collaboration with the Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development women across the 18 L.G.A were given start up capital for various business venturesMaternalPulse Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Women Affairs gave out grinding machines, over 1800 Hairdressing drying sets, sewing machines to indigent women.Skill Acquisition programmes were supported between 2010 – date in the areas of beads – making, tailoring, baking and catering services, soap making, crop planting an animal husbandry and various women groups.Financial and Material support for widows and the elderly across the 18 L.G.A

Thus far, I have thrived to enumerate the interventions of a diligent and number one supporter of a leader of leaders. A man driven by compassion and desire to ameliorate the living conditions of his people whom the ULTIMATE leader and our creator the almighty God has placed in administrative care as a Governor in these near 8 years.

Mr. Governor, as he has chosen to be addressed has displayed very clear, commendable, purposeful, goal getting, bar raising, world-acclaimed, successful leadership and a rare degree of gender friendliness. His  ‘A CARING HEART’ approach to governance has brought about a huge sigh of relief in women and the society at large. It is worthy to note that never in the history of Ondo state has any administration accommodated the inclusion of women in management positions like the Dr. Olusegun Mimiko led administration, where our women are given fair chance in elective and appointive positions.

Unlike in the past, women now hold good number of positions from Commissioner, to Chairman of parastatal, permanent secretaries, tutors general, secretaries of departments, supervisory councilors etc.

It is well acclaimed that when the lot of a woman is positively and upwardly improved, her family (i.e. Husband, Children, Parents, In-laws, Relatives, Friends) and indeed her entire society stand to benefit immensely.

These we have witnessed in Ondo State as our caring heart governor and his team constantly seeks in the emancipation of women:

Delivering us from untimely death while ensuring the sustenance of life on earth through childbirth.The Abiye safe motherhood programmeThe card Igbeayo Social health schemeThe ORIREWA health programmeThe roll back malaria initiative, etc.Enhancing access to qualitative and quantitative education for our children.Provision of soft loans and grants to women in agriculture, market women, small-scale businesses.A more robust participation of women in politics as reflected in :Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly.Former Head of Service.Honorable Commissioners.Chairmen of ParastatalsPresident of the customary Court of AppealPermanent SecretariesTutor Generals, Secretaries and general upward inclusion of women in elective and appropriate offices of government.Creating a conducive environment for the actualization of economic and social goals of women by the provision of safe and decent modern markets across the state.Enhanced security of life and property- a must for women to thrive in any society.

SUMMARY

The role(s) of women and the girl child viz a viz development cannot be over emphasized in our society, it is only fair that women and the girl child be given the deserved chance of expression deemed their male counterpart at ensuring economical, social and environmental growth and development. It is also imperative that the total able population (female and male) be well engaged and put to better use than discriminating against a particular group. More importantly, women should be more engaged, educated and empowered to reduce the number of people living in poverty, through the promulgation and implementation of

Family-friendly policies to increase the labour force participation of women;Development assistance policies which promote the economic role of women;Upgrading the status of and wages for traditional areas of women’s work;Incentives to women to enter science and technology careers;Increased access to finance and support services for women entrepreneurs;Gender-specific approaches in health care planning and treatment;Design of workable policies to punish perpetrators of violence against women and the girl child.Setting targets and goals for women managers and parliamentarians; andGiving greater weight to female perspectives in environmental policies.

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