The Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has pledged to increase the number of women currently in his government so as to meet the 35 per cent affirmative action.
The governor made this known in Enugu on Tuesday while addressing over 1,000 women in state who staged a walk to the government house to demand for the inclusion of more women in government.
Ugwuanyi said he was happy that women from three political parties could come together to fight a just course describing it as a historical landmark.
He said no good government could ignore the place of women in politics because they were influential and to a large extent, determine the progress of a state.
He said: “My 12 years at the National Assembly has afforded me the opportunity of traveling to 156 countries and I have discovered that these countries are rapidly making progress.
“Reason being that they have learnt that women are powerful and as such, they give them key government positions to oversee.
“This, also, has been my conviction and my motivation for appointing women to certain key positions when I became the governor.
“Because you are demanding for more and having been convinced by the capability of women already in my government to deliver effectively, I will begin processing your demands immediately.
“From now on, major appointments as well as positions of Permanent Secretaries will be given to women.”
Ugwuanyi added that a government that ignored women did so at its peril and was bound to be retrogressive.
In her remarks, the Deputy Governor of the state, Cecilia Ezeilo, appreciated the women for jettisoning their different political differences to fight for their rights.
She said that her being chosen as a deputy governor for the first time in history is a pointer that the governor recognized the place of women in governance.
Ezeilo said aside her, the governor appointed a female Chief Judge for the first time and had already appointed five other females as members of his executive.
She advised the women to coordinate themselves well and continue to play their duties as expected even after the implementation of the 35 per cent affirmative action for women by the governor.
Earlier, the president of Inter Party Women Network, Josephine Nwokedike, under whose aegis the walk was staged, said the walk was an initiative of Women Aid Collective.
Nwokedike explained that IPWN comprised women from three different political parties of the All Progressives Congress , All Progressives Grand Alliance and the Peoples Democratic Party who came together to request the implementation of 35 per cent affirmative action for women.
She appreciated the governor for appointing women into his government unlike what had been witnessed before in the state especially approving the inclusion of at least two women to be part of local government executives.
The president however, said more opportunities should be given to women not only at the state level but also at the National Assembly and House of Representatives.
In addition, the Programme Manager of WACOL, Chukwudi Ojielo, said the initiative under the aegis of IPWN was organized by WACOL but sponsored by the National Democratic Initiative.
He said there was need to request for the 35 percent affirmative action because there had been steady decline in the number of women given active positions.
Ojielo said: “Women are beginning to be fizzled out of key government positions and if not addressed on time, we might not have women in government anymore.
“This is not just an Enugu event but it is also taking place in six other states such as Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Adamawa, Jigawa and Anambra.”
The state Chairmen of APC, APGA and PDP separately promised to give females ticket during the forthcoming general elections and to also push that they be appointed into key positions if their party emerged victorious.
They also expressed joy in the togetherness of the women to fight for their rights and thanked WACOL for the initiative.