- Canvasses For Gender-Friendly Policies
By Debo Akinbami
Wife of the Governor of Ondo State, Arabirin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu has said the interventions introduced by the office of the First Lady helped to reduce the effect of the challenges of Covid 19 pandemic on women and girls.
She said this in her remark at the International Conference on Women & Child Development, tagged ‘Gender Equality And Sustainable Development In Africa Under Covid-19 Era’, hosted virtually by Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo.
The First Lady said, “In Response to some of these challenges faced by the Ondo women during the pandemic, The Office of the First Lady of Ondo state introduced some gender friendly projects and programmes to help cushion the impact of the pandemic on women and girls in the state.
“Some of these projects include:”The launch of the Ondo state SGBV yellow card initiative and the establishment of the SGBV Emergency Response Center with toll free numbers, SGBV sensitization and training school counselors to efficiently handle SGBV cases; Ondo widows palliative distribution outreach where over twenty-three thousand widows across the eighteen local governments in the state were reached out to, and provision of Solayo Kits to help relieve pregnant women materially.”
Mrs. Akeredolu, who lamented that the Impacts of the crises have always been heavy on the womenfolk, said the Covid-19 pandemic has led to death, rape, sexual exploitation, turned some Nigerian women into widows and has also weakened the economic power of women.
In her words, “The impact of crises has always been heavy on women and girls and Covid-19-19 was no exception. Before the era of COVID-19, Women in Africa made up 58% of the continent’s self-employed population which played a vital role in the economy and contributedabout 67% to Nigeria’s GDP.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has led to death, rape, sexual exploitation and turned some Nigerian women into widows. It has also weakened the economic power of women and has further proven that the Nigeria socio-political system is unfavourable to the welfare and protection of women and girls. Critically, the insecurity of women as found by several studies reveals that there are numerous cases of human rights violation, loss of livelihood, jobs, murder, humiliation and gender disparities are recurrent threat to women under the COVID-19 era in Nigeria.”
Arabirin also said the COVID-19 crisis increased cases of sexual and gender based violence all over Nigeria, causing loss of means of livelihood which significantly affected women’s income and increased maternal mental health issues.
“The COVID-19 crisis increased cases of sexual and gender based violence all over Nigeria with Lagos and Ogun state taking the lead, Loss of means of livelihood which significantly affected women’s income, Low food security, Severe increase in maternal mental health issues, such as clinically relevant anxiety and depression.
“Access to sexual and reproductive health services was disrupted, Increased occurrence of unplanned pregnancies. This crisis also increased discouragement among girls and young women, clouded their hopes of success with heightened pressure from their parents to drop out of school, enter the labor market or get married.” The First Lady said.
Mrs. Akeredolu however advocated the need to put in place ggender-friendly policies and programmes to help alleviate the struggles of the women in Nigeria, saying “With these ugly impacts of the pandemic on women and girls, I expect that more gender friendly policies and programmes will be put in place to help alleviate the struggles of the women in Nigeria as well as measure towards gender mainstreaming and equality.”