Her Excellency Martha Emmanuel And Dr Glory Edet: Synergy That Is Changing The Face Of Women And Social Welfare In Akwa Ibom State
First things first: Very few forces have the capability of dragging societies several centuries back on their journey to development like the force of inequality. The United Nations understands the danger posed by the misnomer called inequality and as such, organization has been drumming the instructive lesson of the need to work towards closing gaps of inequalities into the ears of governments, policy makers and stakeholders for several years now. For the United Nations, the primary message has been that inequality be it gender or economic has far-reaching negative implications on the effort by governments to meets their target on growth and development.
For instance, in societies where the gap of gender inequality continues to widen, with a climate where members of the female segment of the population are not given the necessary support systems to express their dreams and aspirations, such societies usually rob themselves of a valuable segment of the population that could have made significant contributions to its growth and development. Sadly many societies are yet to come to terms with this significant truth.
However, in Akwa Ibom state it is heartwarming to realize that a robust template which has elevated the threshold of results on women empowerment and social welfare interventions has been drawn up. Policy analysts are of the consensus that the major force has continued to accelerate the success of this template which is jointly driven by the duo of the First Lady of Akwa Ibom state Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel and the Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare Dr Glory Edet has been the fact that it is firmly anchored on the principle of synergy.
At the level of the Ministry of Women and Social Welfare, the forward-thinking Commissioner has been at the forefront of carefully initiating and executing well-thought out programmes of women empowerment and championing social welfare initiatives that is fast closing the socio-economic gaps among the womenfolk in Akwa Ibom state.
For instance, last year, Dr Glory Edet in keeping with her avowed commitment to continually pursue programmes that will help to close the economic gaps among one of the important demographics in the women population in Akwa Ibom state – the widows, floated a widows’ empowerment scheme where hundreds of widows equally drawn from the 31 Local Government areas of the state were given capital with which to start businesses with.
Her remarks at the occasion served as a window through which one could readily understand what the government was hoping to achieve with that initiative. In the words of the Honourable Commissioner
“Today, The Government of Governor Udom Emmanuel through the Ministry of Women and Social Welfare is fulfilling the promise we made to Akwa Ibom people that we will not leave the vulnerable members of our society behind in our quest to build a prosperous state. This empowerment scheme is a yearly event by this Ministry, designed to be executed in batches to cover widows drawn from the 31 Local Government Areas of the States.
I want to urge all of you to invest the money you will be given today in a good economic venture that will yield returns of investment for you. This is government way of saying that we do care about your wellbeing. The money you will be getting is a seed and as you know, those who consume seeds meant for cultivation usually end up with even more days of hunger compared to those who plant the seeds.”
In an effort to close the social gaps that had hitherto alienated most widows from other segment of the Akwa Ibom state population, Dr Glory Edet saw to the successful airlifting of hundreds of Akwa Ibom state widows to Israel on pilgrimage. This exercise had a positive impact on not just the spiritual standing of these widows but on their social psyches.
On the aspect of children, the Ministry of Women Affairs overseen by Dr Glory Edet has not only upped the ante in the protection of the rights of children through the Child Rights Law, but has done an impressive job in raising the bar in the level of inclusion of Akwa Ibom Children in the overall scheme of things. For instance, the Ministry in its ingenuity had thought it wise to expand the scope of activities marking the 2016 Children’s Day celebration. It is worthy to note that the essay competition which formed part of activities lined up to mark the event, and drew participants from the 10 Federal Constituencies of the state, had provided an avenue of gauging the performance of the free, qualitative and compulsory education policy of the Akwa Ibom state Government. And from the results of the essay competition, policymakers and stakeholders agree that government schools in Akwa Ibom state are doing extremely well.
At present, the Akwa Ibom state government through the capable hands of Dr Glory Edet is giving adequate care and protection to a total of eleven thousand six hundred and eighty (11,680) Orphans and Vulnerable Children, (OVC). It is instructive to explain that in all this, it is the desire of the Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs in Akwa Ibom state, Dr Glory Edet that Akwa Ibom state does move into the bright and rewarding era of economic emancipation that Governor Udom Emmanuel has begun to usher in, with some segments of the population left behind.
On the other, the First lady of Akwa Ibom state Her Excellency Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel is giving greater impetus to the work Dr Glory Edet is doing through the life transforming work she is doing through Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Program (FEYReP) initiative.
Mrs Martha Emmanuel’s efforts in laying a new template that would become a reference model for family empowerment and Youth development initiatives in the country span across intervention initiatives in healthcare, economic empowerment, social inclusion for vulnerable and youth development.
Early this year, the caring wife of the Governor through close collaboration with Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare saw to the successful unwrapping of a first-of-its-kind empowerment package for widows in Akwa Ibom state where a total of 155 widows went home with N200,000 each as capital for the setting up of businesses. Of course, this came on the heels of the end of the year Cash and gift splash the kindhearted First lady had organized for elderly to mark the end of the year.
Through the FEYReP initiative, Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel has put together a deworming campaign, collaborated with multinationals to cater to the healthcare needs of women and Children, paid hospital bills for more than 100 indigent indigenes of Akwa Ibom state, and has recently empowered more than 150 Akwa Ibom women in Lagos with funds to start business of interests, among other impressive initiatives.
In all these, one critical lesson that the result-oriented synergy between the First Lady of Akwa Ibom state Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel and Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs Dr Glory Edet will leave in the psyche of the people for years to come is that society becomes more habitable when all its segments are factored into government development agenda.
As we march towards, a prosperous Akwa Ibom, these two mothers of Akwa Ibom people are making sure that no segment no matter how vulnerable is left behind.
It is a new dawn!
*Barr Udeme Eyo is a policy analyst who has worked with many international Non-government Organizations. He is based in Uyo.