Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The President of the Africa Young Female Advisers Initiative, Abiodun Essiet, has said investment by government to improve the survival and status of women, is critical to the empowerment of Nigerian women.
Essiet, a Special Adviser to the Chairman of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) on Donor Agencies and Civil Society Organizations, stated this during the opening ceremony of Partners For West Africa (Nigeria) three-day training on media and communications, leadership and gender budgeting for young female special advisers to elected government officials in the legislature and executive.
Essiet listed healthcare, education, poverty alleviation and agriculture as sectors the federal government, states and local government administrators can significantly improve on budetray allocations in order to enhance the empowerment of women.
Essiet said: ‘We included Gender Budgeting for this capacity building training because our members operate in different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). They are in positions through which they can influence what is included in the budget. This training will be useful for understanding the budget procedure and how the budget can be used to positively impact the lives of women.
‘Putting money in for healthcare, school feeding programme and sectors like education will make life better for women. We definitely need female advisers to better involved in the budget process as what we currently have are budgets that speak to patriarchy with a sector like health where women are mostly affected is not well funded. Health is still poorly funded. In the 2020 Budget, we are yet to meet the Abuja Declaration of 15 percent of the annual budget for healthcare, even with the COVID-19 pandemic.’
Also speaking, a broadcast journalist and Secretary of the Africa Young Female Advisers Initiative, Adaora Onyechere, emphasised on the need for female government appointees to work harmoniously with the media in order to ensure successful projection of government’s interventions, policies and programmes which were helpful to women, as well as work carried out by them.
‘We are teaching our members how to profile themselves, how they can engage with the media and how to communicate. We have a patriarchal system where women are not led to speak with the media.
‘We are keen on visibility for women in the media. We hope that with training like this one we create platforms for women to make connections by which they can be more visible,’ Onyechere said.
In her remarks, the Programme Manager, Partners West Africa (Nigeria), Valkayima Ahmadu Haruna, said women appointed into office have an integral role to play in advancing policies and legislation that will further ensure gender equality and women empowerment.