THE FOWOSO WOMEN:
IRREVERSIBLE SOCIAL CHANGE AGENTS
An Address by Her Excellency, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu at the First FOWOSO summit on the 5th of December, 2018.
As a child, I was told that life is a race, but as I grew older, it dawned on me that the female folk have more hurdles on their track. As a child, I was told everyone has a choice to make, but as I grew Older I discovered that women had their choices made by men. We should not speak in public; we must not aspire; we dare not dream; we cannot compete. These debasing statements are well articulated in our cultural practices, and it is very wrong. Our potentials, they say, is no potential. They say we are born to be subjects, and as subjects we should forever be. The greatest error of mankind is the idea that men and women are no equal.
You who say women can’t be Warriors, have you not heard of Queen Moremi of Ile -Ife, or are you unaware of the exploits of Queen Amina of Zaria. And who said women can’t handle science? Have you not heard that the mathematical calculations that made it possible for any human being to land on the moon was solved by Katherine Johnson, an African-American woman. Who also said that women can’t be wealthy? Maybe you are yet to meet Folorunsho Alakija or Oprah Winfrey. Who said women can’t lead a nation? You should learn from Angela Merkel, Theresa May and more recently, Ethiopian President, Sahle-Work Zewde. To say women can’t, is the most demeaning thing to say.
Let me make it emphatically clear today,it is to on one’s benefit to suppress the abilities of women by denying them education, marrying them off against their will and confining them to the kitchen. The stats are clear, nations that invested significantly in their human resources, female and male alike, without bias. Everyone must be allowed to unleash their potentials without preference to any particular gender.
How do we expect to develop if women, who make up more than half of the entire population are restricted to kitchen duties and child rearing only and are then expected to, like serfs, totally depend on their husband for every need. It is simple economics, a high dependency ratio automatically results to stalled development. Knowing this, I have dedicated my life to driving gender equality, not because I love the female folk more, but because I seek the growth and advancement of humanity as a whole.
Women can and should fully participate in engineering the development of our beloved country, Nigeria. Although, the older women have lost many years to silence and passiveness towards national development, I believe it’s not too late for them to get involved. As a result of this mind-set, I initiated the coming together of women in Ondo State and Yes! We have succeeded in building an army of resolute change makers who have ignited the cause of women empowerment for socio-economic development in Ondo state. These women under the platform of Forum for Wives of Ondo State Officials and Political Appointees (FOWOSO) have impacted the lives of thousands of Ondo State women within one year, through skill acquisition, empowerment and health awareness programmes.
The FOWOSO Women are providing to the World that women can drive economic growth in any nation. Everyone should note that Ondo Women are now limitless, we are unstoppable. Whether the male folk want us to participate in developmental process or not, we will participate. Even if we are not invited to the policy table, like Meghan Markel said, we will get our chairs and squeeze it in somewhere. That time is no more where women will wait to be called before joining the conversation, the FOWOSO women are joining the conversation uninvited and it has been profitable to everyone.
Permit me to borrow the words of Cesar Estrada Chavez, “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed.” FOWOSO has provoked a social change for the protection of every child, for the empowerment of every woman and for the development of Ondo State. We started this laudable cause and it is gaining global attention and trust. We acknowledge the support of a number of men who unlike others, decided to be regarded as “He For She.” That is, men who believe in the remarkable and limitless abilities of women and are doing all they can to ensure these abilities are maximized, without any equivocation, I make bold to say that my husband is “Numero Uno, He For She.” The pursuit of gender equality is definitely daunting, many rocks of stereotypes are particularly exacting, but when more men join us, we are further Strengthened to prevail quickly. But whatever the case, we shall prevail.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are welcome to the first FOWOSO Summit