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Education is the First Step to Women Empowerment – Mrs. Obiano

By Emeka Ozumba
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The wife of the governor of Anambra State, Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano has stated that education is the first step necessary for women empowerment followed by financial independence. Mrs. Obiano said this in an Address Friday to commemorate the International Women’s Day in Anambra State at the Professor Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka.

Mrs. Obiano who was represented by the wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Oby Okeke told Anambra women-folk who turned out in their numbers for the event that the value of a well-trained and educated woman to the growth and welfare of the family and indeed the nation is unquantifiable. She also buttressed the importance of education for women with the saying that “when you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”

The wife of the governor drew attention of the women to the theme of 2016 International Women’s Day held on March 8, 2016, “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” She also highlighted the UN plans to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, and build momentum for effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, as well as commitment to gender equality, women empowerment and women’s human rights.

In the same vein, she frowned at the discomfort of some people whenever the issue of gender equality is raised, even as she restated her convictions that the place of a woman beside her husband makes for effective and symbiotic relationship. She urged Anambra women to observe the day by reflecting on, “how far we have come and the challenges that confront us daily in the quest to achieve our individual goals and build an inclusive society for women and girls.”

Mrs. Obiano noted that the programmes of her NGO, Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) is in tune with the Agenda of the United Nations on women empowerment. She outlined some projects of CAFÉ which provides succor and empowerment to indigent women and widows. Such as the Housing for indigent widows in each Senatorial zone, the building of Toilets in rural Markets across Anambra, as well as Skills Acquisition and empowerment training for over 600 women, Tailoring and Fashion design, Soap making, Bakery and Confectionery, Hair dressing and Beauty Therapy, and Interior Decoration amongst other programmes.

She thanked Governor Obiano for ensuring that Anambra State holds the enviable position as one of the states ahead of others in recognition and appointment of women to positions of authority. According to Mrs. Obiano, “We have witnessed increased women participation, visibility and involvement in politics and governance. Most people can attest to the clear demonstration of that support and confidence by our able and committed governor, to the promotion of the course of women with the appointment of many at all levels of his government.”

It would be recalled that on March 8, 2016 to mark the UN observance of the International Women’s Day, Mrs. Obiano commended Anambra women for their industry and commitment to the family and societal development in time of economic adversity.

Earlier, Hon Commissioner for Women Affairs urged the women to look in words to help stop the encouragement of practices that debase women in the communities. She stated that maltreatment of widows with scraping of their hairs on the death of their husbands, locking widows’ ‎inside during husband’s burial amongst other contentious practices can be stopped with steadfast commitment of women and dialogue between community leaders and women leaders in the villages. She praised the wife of the governor for her charitable and empowerment of Anambra State women.

Also in her presentation, a Resource Person and President of YOUCAN Foundation Mrs. Ify Obiekwe amongst other issues said that cultural practices and belief system in communities are a major impediment to gender parity. She noted that such practices encourage denial of certain rights to women like the education of girls and the wrong notion that women do not have mind of their own to make reasonable contribution.

Mrs. Obiekwe advocated for dialogue with men and leadership in the communities on the need for gender parity. She believes that gender parity will help stop practices like child marriage, violence against women while sexuality education will stem sexual harassment. She called for more women to be given access to power because when they are empowered to be part of governance they can make valuable inputs to the society. She also praised the governor of Anambra State for appointing several women in positions of authority.

The event was attended by prominent women including Chairman of the occasion and former Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Henrietta Agbata, wife of the National Chairman of APGA, Mrs. May Oye, wife of the former National Chairman of APGA, Mrs. Prisca Umeh and APGA Woman Leader, Lady Chinyere Ibenta amongst others.