The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, and his counterparts from Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel; Edo State, Godwin Obaseki; Bayelsa State, Seriaki Dickson; and Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, on Tuesday commended the sterling contributions of women to the society, stating that their role in nation building cannot be overemphasized.
The Governors spoke at the opening ceremony of the 17th National Women Conference, organised by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials, held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, with the theme: “She Creates, She Transforms.”
They took turn to celebrate the doggedness, dexterity and creativity of women and their notable contributions towards building a better society.
In his goodwill message, Governor Ambode saluted the resilience of women in their different spheres, noting that they are naturally gifted with skills and talents that make positive difference and impact on their generation.
He said: “Our women are constantly creative; making something out of nothing. Creativity has become very essential to succeed in today’s world because we face new challenges everyday – at home and at work. As the woman creates and transforms, she positively impacts the family, the workplace and the nation.
“With the female population in our country today, it is clear that our women have the capacity to positively affect the Nigerian economy and are already doing so.
“What is required is a deliberate and articulated policy to support female entrepreneurs and MSMEs. And from my experience, female entrepreneurs are outstanding business people who are very creative and hardworking. If you want a job done properly and delivered on time, give it to a woman.”
Ambode expressed optimism that the Conference, aside celebrating the resilient and dynamic nature of women under diverse situations, would go a long way to unleash the creative and transformative energies of more women.
Governor Ambode, while restating his administration’s commitment to supporting female entrepreneurs, disclosed that as at September 2017, at least 2,613 female entrepreneurs who run Medium and Small Scale businesses have been funded through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund to the tune of N2.1 billion, assuring that more would be given before the end of the year.
The Governor also congratulated the first female mechanic, Sandra Aguebor, who was presented with the Inspirational Woman of the year Award, saying she had dared to succeed in a career many see as a sole reserve for men.
On his part, Governor Emmanuel, who was Guest of Honour, commended the COWLSO Chairman and wife of Lagos State Governor, Bolanle Ambode, for sustaining and improving the COWLSO conference which started 17 years ago, saying there was the need for women as liberators of the world to be appreciated by every man for their contributions to development at all times.
Speaking on the theme of this year’s conference, Emmanuel charged women to live their lives by creating and transforming people and things around them without minding the shortcomings, adding that it was important for them to keep hope alive.
Also, Governor Dickson of Bayelsa State said the role of women in transforming life could not be under estimated, adding that it was imperative for women to always be appreciated and celebrated.
Dickson and his counterpart in Edo State, Obaseki, both commended Lagos State for the initiative, saying they would replicate same in their states for the benefit of women.
On his part, Governor Fayose said life without women would be full of crises, adding that it was important for women to be given opportunity to be in the drivers’ seat in the country.
In her welcome address, Mrs. Ambode particularly charged women to speak up against the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, saying that the campaign must start from the home front, churches, mosques, offices and the communities.
She said: “Female genital mutilation is evil, it is wicked, it is anti-social and unjustifiable. Infact, it is a crime against women. We must devote time for enlightenment and awareness especially among uneducated mothers. We must stand together against it, until the practice is totally eradicated in our country and the world.”
Mrs. Ambode also urged woman to resist the temptation of pursuing economic empowerment at the expense of taking good care and paying attention to their children, stressing that children who do not enjoy parental care, easily grow to become potentially dangerous youths and threatening the peace of the society.
She said: “The rising trend of leaving the girl-child entirely in the care of housemaids, neighbours or strangers in pursuit of income or for flimsy reasons, should be discouraged.
“We must desist from and discourage child-labour, child-abuse and fight child trafficking with all our strength. We owe it a duty to give good parenting to our children and indeed all other children put in our care. We must give them hope and allow them see the positive side of life, as a way of bringing back good morals and societal stability.”
In her keynote address, the wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, urged women to work hard to transform their children and wards into greatness and create a safe and secured society by inculcating the right virtues in their children.
Osinbajo particularly urged the womenfolk to draw inspiration from women who had performed creditably well in their chosen profession and endeavour to leave their footprints on the sands of time.
She said women must speak up against rape and all forms of abuse against women and children, and also speak in defence of the downtrodden and less-privileged in the society.
Highlight of the event was the presentation of the Inspirational Woman Award to Aguebor, by Osinbajo and the unveiling and beautiful rendition of the COWLSO anthem.