The UN Women Representatives to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mrs Grace Ongile, said European Union would implement a programme to strengthen women’s leadership and advance gender equality in Nigeria.
Ongile made this known in Abuja at the launch of a three-year programme to encourage women to engage in peace and security in Northern parts of the country.
She said the programme would improve the protection of women and girls in communities affected by conflict.
She said, “The strategy of the programme is designed around the capacity building of Nigerian institutions, women groups and gender equality advocates.
“The programme is designed to incorporate a strong communication and knowledge management element in the hope that it will contribute to the broader societal change toward gender equality.”
Ongile said at the last steering meeting that took place on August 5, three states, Adamawa, Plateau and Gombe, were selected for the programme.
She said the EU supported the UN women and relevant organisations with 10 million Euros toward the programme, adding that the initiative was aimed at sustaining peace.
In his speech, Gov. Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, said the engagement of women was critical to the sustenance of peace, security and development.
“In conflict situations, the most vulnerable groups are women and children. Out of the 1,599 IDPs camped at Wuro Juli for instance, 76 per cent are women and children,” Dankwambo said.
Dankwambo said majority of the heads of households in the camp were widows, upon whose fragile shoulders the burden of fending for the family now falls.
He said, “This scenario highlights the relevance of this engagement programme which seeks to strengthen women’s leadership, advance gender equality and improve protection of women and children in conflict situations.
“Although women are better placed to appraise and render support to fellow women and children, this can only be done with the required encouragement of relevant agencies, like the EU, UNICEF and UN Women.”
The governor said the launch raised new hopes for their future and parents who look forward to clean water, sanitation, housing and jobs.
The EU Head of Delegation, Mr Michel Arrion, said the programme was in line with 2011 Annual Action Plan approved by the European Commission.
Arrion said, “The overall objective of the programme is to support the government of Nigeria in promoting women’s engagement in peace and security in Northern Nigeria.
“It has been designed to enhance the capacity of Nigerian beneficiaries at the federal and state levels.”
Arrion said the programme of activities would contribute to meeting the national aspirations as encapsulated in Nigeria’s vision 20:2020.
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, said that with the launch, Nigeria would be on the right path to promote engagement in peace in Northern Nigeria.
She said, “This will also significantly assist Nigeria in achieving the development goals articulated in Nigeria vision 20:2020 and Transformation Agenda of the President.
“We should do our best in ensuring that these values are being inculcated into our younger generation for the purpose of sustainability of peace security and development.”
The Minister of National Planning Commission, Alhaji Abubakar Sulaimon, said additional states would be considered for inclusion in the intervention to ensure greater coverage of the affected region.
He called on relevant stakeholders both at the federal and state levels to ensure that all hands were on deck to achieve the required synergy for sustainable results.
Copyright – Global Runs 2014