The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that the state government has prioritised policies to place women at the fore of development policies and programmes, assuring that health and gender mainstreaming are key drivers of his agenda.
Governor Obaseki said this in commemoration of the International Day of Rural Women, marked every October 15, by the United Nations and its various organs.
He stressed that development policies in the state place women at the heart of intervention, as women have been empowered in either driving some of his administration’s key policies or at the receiving end of the policy’s positive impact.
According to him, “We run an inclusive government in Edo State. This much is apparent in the manner in which we conduct our affairs and those that are the target of our intervention programmes. As a government, we cannot overlook the place of women in rural communities in driving development because of their illustrious roles as mobilisers, activists, cornerstones of progress and a dependable hand in all spheres of human life. Hence, when intervention programmes are designed, women are given the front role.”
He added that a number of the state government’s programmes such as the Edo Healthcare Improvement Programme (Edo-HIP), the Ward Development Committee, Edo Food and Agriculture Cluster (Edo-FAC) and the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo-BEST) programmes have components that address the needs of rural women, ensuring that they get the necessary support and structures to live better, rewarding lives.
Noting that the 18 Special Assistants and a Special Adviser on Gender Issues in the government contribute to policy designs to engage more women, he said, “Our government accommodates the views and inputs of all. The 18 Special Assistants serve as our ears in the rural areas and bring to the fore the issues faced by women at the grassroots. This ensures that we are in touch with them.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hon. Magdalene Ohenhen, in a chat with journalists, said that the state government has embarked on a number of projects to improve health, education and other indices of development for the benefit of rural women.
According to her, “Through Edo-HIP, at least 200 functional Primary Health Care (PHC) centers will be refurbished to attend to the needs of rural women across the state. Work is currently ongoing on 20 of these centers and those in Warake, Ofumwegbe, Uwelu, Ugbeke and Ukpenu have been completed, to attend to the needs of mothers and children.”
On Gender Mainstreaming with the 18 Senior Special Assistants and one Special Adviser on Gender Issues, she said, “The state government’s appointment of focal persons for gender issues in the local government is to ensure that the voices of women are heard and their input is taken in formulating policies.”
According to the United Nations, “Essential services on which millions of rural women and girls depend—health, education, childcare, shelters—are chronically underfunded or simply unavailable. Where they exist, they are often the first to be hit by austerity measures, which are once again on the rise.
“In 2018 alone, 124 countries are expected to be cutting their budgets, eroding social protection measures and essential services on which so many rural women and girls depend. This is not inevitable. In virtually all countries, there is scope for raising or reallocating resources to strengthen public services that are essential for women and girls. It is a matter of political will and of using all the available policy tools. The cost of inaction is simply too high.”