From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Twenty-five years after the Beijing declaration popularly called 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 top government officials held at the weekend to review the implementation so far in Kaduna State.
That platform for action was adopted by 189 governments including Nigeria where they promised commitment to taking strategic, bold action 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.
Sharing the essence of the meeting with newsmen the convener, Executive Director, Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women (LANW), Rebecca Sako-John, said critical stakeholders had converged at a hotel to brainstorm on how to accelerate progress towards women empowerment and gender equality in the State.
‘We are reviewing the implementation of Beijing plans for action and we are doing that looking at how we are fairing in the 12 critical areas that were adopted in 1995.
‘We want to see what progress have we made this 2020 especially to accelerate progress towards women empowerment and gender equality.
‘What we have noted is that there were progress in some areas and set back in some areas. For example, we still have issues of violence against women and girls, we still have low participation of women in decision making and so on.
‘In this jet age, we know that when our women are empowered and their rights are secured, it will accelerate sustainable development.
‘We want to build the stakeholders in Kaduna State so that they can step in to help accelerate that gender equality and women empowerment,’ she said.
Updating the meeting on how Kaduna State Government has been fairing about the declaration in the past five years, Commissioner, Human Services and Social Development, Hafsat Baba, said the current administration in the State has deliberately put in place policies that have created opportunities for women and girls to reach their potentials.
She said: ‘On women and poverty, we know that the government may not be able to employ everyone, but, the current administration has provided an environment for small businesses to strive in the state.
‘For example, we have an intervention called Kaduna State Women Empowerment Fund (KADSWEF) which support women in their small businesses aiming at improving their economy standard.
‘On education, we are providing free education, building additional infrastructure to accommodate the increase in enrolment, scholarship and second chance for women who either drop out or married and have not been in school.
‘We are also improving our health system. We have just upgraded 255 primary health centres. We have also declared a state of emergency on violence against women and we are working towards that among others.