From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Twenty-five years after the Beijing Declaration, popularly called the Beijing Platform for Action, which was developed at the fourth World Conference on Women in China in 1995, a multi-stakeholders meeting comprised of civil society groups and the top government officials have concluded the implementation review for Kaduna State.
So far, Kaduna State was noted to have done well in the implementation of the 12 thematic areas of focus in that conference about three decades ago.
The outcome of the Beijing Platform was adopted by 189 governments including Nigeria where they promised commitment to taking strategic and bold steps in 12 critical areas of concern which are poverty, education and training, health, violence, armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment, and the girl child.
After several review meetings of the implementation by strategically selected stakeholders who cut across government, civil society and private sector in Kaduna, the findings were eventually published and made available to the public so each stakeholder can look at the recommendations as applicable for action.
Fielding questions from the newsmen shortly after unveiling the document at a hotel in Kaduna, the only female lawmaker in Kaduna and North-West, Comfort Amwe, agreed that the state had done better in the implementation of some of the thematic areas in the past five years.
In the area of women and governance, she canvassed for deliberate plans by INEC and political parties to give women realistic opportunity to vie and occupy elective offices.
‘In the current administration in Kaduna State, we have 14 commissioners and six of them are women. We have a female deputy governor and chief of staff. That is a good representation.
‘I think Kogi State is also in tune when it comes to enabling women to be involved in governance. But then, two out of 19 Northern States and I supposed the 36 States and FCT are still not good enough.
‘For me, I’m the only female parliamentarian in Kaduna State and it is so challenging. It is not good enough. When issues of women come up, I need to follow up on the male legislators, lobbying, begging to get their buy-in which is not good enough. With that, I will not be able to achieve a lot as only a legislator. So, we need to do more,’ she decried.
Executive Director, Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women, (LANW) and Convener, Barrister Rebecca Sako-John, noted that Kaduna State has faired we’ll though there is room for improvement.
‘This very action plus clocked 25 years in 2020 and we are reviewing its level of implementation to see what has been the achievements and setbacks towards attaining gender equality and advancement of women in Kaduna State.
‘From the review, we have made some recommendations to different stakeholders some of whom are in the room for this public presentation. So, we are going to widely publicise the report for people to look at where there are gaps.
‘The report would also serve as a report card to the government and other stakeholders to see where they have done well and where they need to do more. Based on this review, we have seen some levels of developments here in Kaduna.
‘For example, in the area of women and education, we have seen efforts in terms of girls enrolment and the need for them to stay in school. We saw initiatives for a scholarship for girls in sciences and the revamping of primary health centres to reduce maternal and child mortality.
‘When we look at the area of women and decision making, we have seen several women in appointive offices though we need to do more when it comes to women in elective offices.
‘So, in each of the twelve thematic areas, there are levels of improvement and we also noticed some challenges which are expected to be addressed going forward.
‘Generally, I will give Kaduna State a pass mark. However, we need to improve in the area of budget expenditure. Over the years, we see a beautiful budget in education and health but there are issues when it comes to the implementation.
‘If the monies that are allocated to some of these projects are released and cash-backed, we would have seen more in implementation which means we would have seen more improvements in the life of women and girls in Kaduna State,’ she observed.