Women development and poverty reduction in Lagos
In Nigeria, effort to give women a better deal has always been on the front burner. Generally, the Nigerian woman is untiringly industrious and strives as hard as the man. Sadly, she is rarely acknowledged as a significant contributor to society’s sustenance. It has, therefore, become essential to give much thought and attention to the state of women in the country, especially considering our present socio- economic realities.
Taking into account its cosmopolitan nature as well as its dynamic economic and commercial status, Lagos State has the largest mixtures of women in the country. At the inception of his administration in Lagos State, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode pledged to run an all inclusive government in which no one or any segment will be left behind. It is in fulfillment of this sacred pledge that the State Government has intensified efforts to make sure that the right of every woman, irrespective of sex, tribe and religious affiliations is not in any way trampled upon in the State.
In a bid to improve the living standard of women in the State, the State Government has embarked upon a variety of empowerment programmes aimed at advancing the potentials of women to earn a decent living. The ultimate goal is to make them economically secure. One of such programmes was undertaken in partnership with Dangote Foundation and the end result was the launch of the Dangote Micro Grants scheme for Women in the State. Through this scheme, a total of 40,000 (2,000 per Local Government) women were provided with necessary support that could facilitate their Micro enterprise.
Recently, over 3200 women and men including widows, vulnerable women, graduates of skill acquisition centers and senior citizens were also empowered through the State Government mega empowerment programme. Similarly, through the various Skill Acquisition Center (SAC), numerous regular short term Skill Acquisition Programmes have been held across the state. The total number of students that graduated from the Ministry’s SACs in the Year 2016 was 6,105. Presently; over 6,000 students are undergoing various training programmes in many centers across the state.
Similarly, the State Government has equally done much to improve the medical well being of women in the State. This is because better health is central to human happiness and well-being. Healthy population makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more. Hence, in collaboration with several other stakeholders, the State Government has conducted vital health screenings for women across the State.
In addition to this, various enlightenment and awareness campaigns on health issues such as breast cancer, HIV / AIDS, Cervical cancer and breast feeding have been conducted so that women could be more enlightened on issues relating to these diseases. Also, various seminars and workshops were organized to sensitize women on Maternal Mortality rate.
The womenfolk have also been supported in tackling Gender- Based Violence which is a human rights violation, a public health challenge, and a barrier to civic, social, political and economic participation. It undermines not only the safety, dignity, overall health status, and human rights of the millions of individuals who experience it, but also the public health, economic stability, and security of nations. It cuts across ethnicity, race, class, religion, education level, and international borders. Although statistics on the prevalence of violence vary, the scale is tremendous, the scope is vast, and the consequences for individuals, families, communities, and countries are devastating.
In Lagos, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) have been inaugurated and it is saddled with the responsibility of rescuing and rehabilitating victims of domestic violence. Also, the State Government has launched the State’s Guidelines Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. It is called the Domestic Violence Protocol for Responder Agencies and it is aimed at providing guidelines and establishing standards for relevant agencies.
These agencies include the police, judiciary officials, health care providers, social workers, counselors, educators etc. The State Government also approved the procurement of Rescue Vehicles and also established more shelter and transit homes for victims and would be survivors of domestic violence in addition to the procurement of rape kits and training for sexual assault examiners at primary health care centres across the state.
Similarly, the maiden edition of WAPA (Women Development and Poverty Alleviation) Alert, an online interactive Social Media), where issues concerning Women are discussed was held at the Prestige Hotel, Ikeja. In same vein, several sensitization programmes for Lagos State women on Gender Based Violence were held across the State. These include, among others, the one held in partnership with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on 16 Days Activism Against Gender – Based Violence Campaign, mentoring of public Secondary School Councilors on management of Gender Based Violence (GBV) , partnership with EWURO PROJECT for Command Performance to further sensitize the public on the issue of Violence Against Women and plight of widows through the use of irresistible hybrid of drama, poetry, music and dance at the National Theater , Iganmu, Lagos. For relevant information on Domestic Violence, Lagos residents could contact the following Help lines: 08085594141 and 081887556138.
Considering current state of the country’s economy and its subsequent effects on food security, the State Government is also offering training programmes for women who desire to engage in agriculture related ventures. Through this, they would not only be able to feed their respective families, but also be able to create wealth. Vital areas where the women were trained include agro processing, fishery, snail and grass cutter rearing.
Others are cultivation of arable crops such as cassava, maize, leafy and fruit vegetables that serves as demonstration plots for Agricultural trainees. The promotion of the formation of cooperative societies among female farmers in the State was also encouraged. The goal is to ensure they benefit from Federal and State Government agricultural interventions initiatives.
It should be stressed that WAPA’s Farm at Avia in Badagry is a training centre for Women who have passion for Agriculture. The farm also serves as a training centre for students from both Primary and Secondary Schools who usually paid excursion visits to acquaint themselves with Agricultural production and processing.
Undoubtedly, the Lagos State Government has done a lot to uplift the standard of women in the State, especially in the past two years. If current plans, policies and programmes are sustained, the future, no doubt, looks bright for women in the State.Public Affairs Unit, Ministry of Women Affairs & Poverty Alleviation, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.