By Kemi Yesufu
President of Africa Young Female Advisers Initiative, Abiodun Essiet, has identified targeted investment by government at all levels in sectors that improve the survival and status of women, as critical to their empowerment.
She listed healthcare, education, poverty alleviation and agriculture as sectors through which the Federal Government, states and Local Government administrators are to significantly improve on budetray allocations if Nigeria is to empower women.
Essiet who is Special Adviser to the chairman of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) on Donor Agencies and Civil Society Organizations spoke to journalists on Monday at the opening ceremony of a Partners For West Africa (Nigeria) organized, 3-Day training on Media and Communications, Leadership and Gender Budgeting , for young female Special Advisers to elected government officials in the legislature and executive.
“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 most 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”, Essiet said.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony of the workshop, broadcast journalist and Secretary of the Africa Young Female Advisers Initiative, Adaora Onyechere, stressed the need for female government appointees to collaborate with the media to project government interventions, policies and programmes which are 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.
Earlier in her welcome address, 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.