From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The First Lady of Edo State, Her Excellency, Betsy Obaseki, has called on government at all levels across Nigeria to enact policies that will favour women in view of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, just as Governor Godwin Obaseki established a N1 billion fund for the upliftment of women in the state.
She made the call while marking the 2021 International Women’s Day celebration put together by the Office of the Wife of the Governor and the Edo State Ministry of Women Affairs in collaboration with German Organisation GIZ and an Edo based agro-company Farmforte with the theme addressing the vulnerabilities of women in a COVID-19 era held in Benin.
Mrs Obaseki said responsible governments around the world are enacting policies to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on women.
She urged the government and political leaders at all levels to be more sensitive to the needs and plight of women across Nigeria as they suffered the most in the past year.
Commenting on the high incidence of Gender-Based Violence during the COVID-19 lockdown, Her excellency remarked that the families have a major role to play in raising their boys to respect girls and women.
She then launched Phase 3 of the Edo Women for Agriculture and Enterprise (EWAEN) scheme in collaboration with Farmforte, an integrated agro-based company.
The collaboration will see 4,000 women empowered in agriculture and business, whose produce will be off taken by Farmforte.
The Managing Partner of Farmforte, Mr Osazuwa Osayi, said one major problem farmers face in the continent is access to markets, thus the company plans to smoothen the process for women farmers in the state to have guaranteed access to the market.
Governor Obaseki said he observed from the data currently being gathered across the state that a lot of women lost their livelihoods and business capital due to the COVID-19 lockdown, which necessitated his decision to establish the N1 billion Women Support Fund.
‘This morning as our response, I launch our own gift to women of Edo State, a N1 billion fund for widows and vulnerable women whose livelihoods have been grievously affected as a result of COVID-19,’ the governor stated.
‘We will immediately seed that fund with N250 million and work with our financial and non-financial partners to raise the balance.
‘The fund will be managed professionally not politically, mostly by women, to address that group of very vulnerable women, because if we do not, the consequences in our society will be too dire,’ he said.