SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY, ARABINRIN BETTY ANYANWU-AKEREDOLU, THE FIRST LADY OF ONDO STATE, AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE FORUM FOR WIVES OF ONDO STATE OFFICIALS (FOWOSO) AT THE M.K.O. ABIOLA DEMOCRACY PARK, AKURE ON THE 7TH OF DECEMBER 2017.
TITLE: WOMEN DEVELOPMENT AND ITS IMPACT ON SOCIETY
I welcome all you great women of Ondo State and Nigeria who have come from near and far to attend the inauguration of the Forum of Wives of Ondo State Officials (FOWOSO). I thank you for honouring our invitation. While we are here to mark the launch of this Forum, we are also celebrating the great work and impact of women in the society and encourage ourselves to build upon the works of the past to leave a lasting mark in Ondo State and Nigeria. FOWOSO, while conceived by myself, has reached this point through the support of many of you here today and can only be successful with your continued support. I am grateful for the unity showed leading up to this day.
Among FOWOSO’s objectives is to develop and execute programmes that would build capacity in the young and old women in this great State. We aim to stand for, advocate and create equal opportunity for the women of the State and ensure they are prepared to take charge when called upon. We are here to develop the human capital capacity of women in Ondo State.
For many years the impact of women has been limited to the home. The role of the woman has been one solely of social and domestic value; charged with the responsibility of taking care of the home and raising children. In the late 19th Century, women began to challenge this notion though and realised they could contribute to the society even economically and politically. This notion and breakthrough started first in Europe and spread to the Americas and with the Asian, Arab and African nations slowly embracing it more in the 20th and 21st Centuries albeit not entirely. There is still a lot of segregation and inequality present, with many still believing and insisting that a woman’s role predominantly belongs in the home and with men retaining control over what or where women can work or the types of jobs they take up.
As we know, only 50 percent of working age women are represented in the labour force globally, compared to 76 per cent of men and we still have more men employed than women especially in skilled labour despite women outnumbering men in population statistics and living longer. In addition, an overwhelming majority of employed women are in informal sectors of the economy; subsidised care and domestic work, and concentrated in low pay, low skilled occupations with little or no social protection. The low representation of women in positions of real authority and decision making is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently.
The only way for us to challenge this, and position ourselves to have an impact on the economy is to change our mindset and develop the human capital of our women and even ourselves; self-development is inexhaustible. We as mothers need to prioritise the education of our children; male and female alike to the highest levels. Education frees the mind, broadens your horizon, increases your opportunities, builds self-confidence and promotes objectivity. We need to encourage our daughters to rise above fears and societal standards and expectations to be all that they want to be. They should know that they are fully capable of maintaining the home, having and raising children and excelling in their chosen profession if they so choose.
In truth, women’s roles in economic growth has grown to the point where it is a loss to the society to segregate them from economic activity and decision-making processes. There is evidence from research, on the importance of women to economic development used to support the World Bank’s ‘Gender Mainstreaming Strategy’ launched in 2001. The research highlighted that societies that discriminate by gender tend to experience less rapid economic growth and poverty reduction than societies that treat males and females more equally, and that social gender disparities produce economically inefficient outcomes.
It is shown that if African countries closed the gender gap in schooling between 1960 and 1992 as quickly as East Asia did, this would have produced close to a doubling of per capita income growth in the region. The primary pathways through which gender systems affect growth are by influencing the productivity of labour and the allocative efficiency of the economy.
Certain characteristics of women such as being more reliable and productive, ‘good with money,’ including being better at paying back loans, and more efficient distributors of goods and services within the household is justification for including women in development in economic growth. In terms of productivity, for example, if the access of women farmers to productive inputs and human capital were on a par with men’s access, total agricultural output could increase by an estimated 6 to 20 percent.
It is important to me that the women in this State grow to have great influence and impact in the society and economy. I truly believe the first step in achieving this is through investment in the human capital, health and education of women and girls. This is because 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. They are also more likely to invest in the education of their children and more likely to have fewer children. This is evident that human capital development is essential for both short and long term inter-generational outcomes and is good for both productivity gains and limiting unsustainable population growth. It also removes the limited engagement of girls in the study of science and technology and increases the future life and employment options of adolescent girls.
This is where FOWOSO becomes relevant. We cannot sit back and expect the Government to champion these causes. We as wives and mothers are role models to all the females in the State. It is apparent that the glass ceiling engineered to limit women can be broken through. We owe it to our children and their children to ensure that they are effectively developed to take up the challenge and be impactful in the economy. We have to play our part in preparing our women to be effective leaders in theeconomic sector of the society.
We must empower them educationally, support them financially and build them in skills. As we know, once a woman is empowered, her home is empowered and that in turn creates an amiable and functioning home, which impacts the society positively.
We, as women are capable of leaving a lasting legacy in the annals of time of this great Sunshine State and the Nation at large. We believe that FOWOSO can be one of such legacies, not of mine, but of all women of this State. We believe that FOWOSO will be here for a long time, even after I leave, providing unity amongst women in the State to carry out projects aimed at empowering, establishing and encouraging girls and women to BE MORE and do more.
Once again, I would love to appreciate everyone who has made it here. I want to thank all the current members of FOWOSO and everyone who has worked with us and enabled us to witness this great day. I would like to thank our husbands, fathers, sons and men in our lives who have continued to support and believe in us. Lastly and most importantly, I would like to thank GOD for the grace and ability to put this together and pull it off and for his continuous blessings.
Thank you !
GOD bless you!!
God bless Ondo State!!!