Smiling faces, camaraderie and rejoicing characterized the Wednesday 16 December 2020 graduation ceremony of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) Female Artisanship Programme.
The colorful graduation ceremony held at the Banquet Hall of the Centre was the culmination of a 30-day in-house training for women in lucrative trades. For the 2020 edition of the fully subscribed programme, women including those living with disabilities were trained in plumbing, generator repairs, AC/fridge maintenance, electrical installation, POP design, as well as tilling and plumbing.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Director-General of NCWD, Barr. Mary Ekpere-Eta described the graduates as trailblazers, who will lead the female incursion into trades that were once the exclusive preserve of men.
She told guests that the graduates having survived the rigorous training were supported with a cash token and the best of tools and equipment to immediately commence business.
Ekpere-Eta said the NCWD scaled-up empowerment programmes for women with the goal of creating jobs and pulling more women out of poverty. She further said the artisanship programme which was introduced under her tenure as NCWD Director-General will see women competing for more opportunities in the ever busy construction industry.
“The Buhari Administration recognizes the need to invest in women as they constitute about 50 percent of the country’s population. Today’s programme is one of the examples that indeed the Federal Government has prioritized the empowerment of women. The modern woman can fend for herself and contribute to the wellbeing of her family and friends, these women we see here today form part of the new generation of women who work to earn income, which they can deploy for their welfare and that of their families.
“I am optimistic that today’s graduates will use the skills they have been taught to earn an income and deconstruct stereotypes”.
In his goodwill message, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon, described the graduating trainees as role models who deserved to be celebrated. He reiterated that the United Nations recognized women empowerment as critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it therefore will continue to support Nigeria in raising more women who contribute to national development. This is a he called for gender budgeting in Nigeria, as well as laws and policies to protect women’s rights.
Kallon commended Ekpere-Eta on the programme, saying, “I thank the Director-General for integrating these women into the economy of Nigeria”.
Also speaking at the event, Managing Director/Chief Executive of NEXIM Bank, Mr. Abba Bello, said the graduates will contribute to the push to develop the non-oil sector. Represented at the ceremony by a director with the bank, Hon. Stella Okotete, the NEXIM Bank boss urged the new graduates to take advantage of financial packages in relevant federal agencies targeted at women in the informal sector.
National President of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Dr. Laraba Shoda called on the graduates to live up to expectations. She was represented by Mrs. Adenike Ada-Akpan. On her part, chairperson of the Women and Gender Affairs Cluster Committee of the African Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOC) for Nigeria, Ms. Adaorah Onyechere, asked that the graduates see themselves as, “Change makers in action”.
Still on goodwill messages, Wife of the minister of State Petroleum, Mrs. Alayingi Sylva urged that graduating trainees take the bull by the horn, as women have a lot of catching up to do as artisans in male dominated trades.
One of graduates Ms. Violet David described her experience as life-changing. “This is the first time I participated in this type of training. The programme was awesome. I learnt a lot as a member of this set of trainees. I was trained in AC/fridge repair, but beyond the technical aspect of our training, we also were taught so much on etiquette and why even when we are female artisans, we can still do well in the field”, she said.
Permanent-Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Dr. Ifeoma Anyanwutaku and chairperson House of Representatives Committee on Women Affairs, Otunba. Adewunmi Onanuga, led dignitaries at the event to present certificates to the graduates.