Gender Mainstreaming at the Core of Pst. Umo Eno’s Leadership
In recent times, evolving shifts in social awakening have opened wide range of discourse towards emboldening inclusiveness and strengthening voices of under-represented constituencies at various strata of leadership. As such, Gender inclusion, and parity has been the bane of global call for ensuring people-centered growth and lasting development impacts for most growth-lag communities.
A study conducted by Ikeji et al., 2018 analysis element responsible for the low participation of Akwa Ibom women in leadership to include; economic, cultural, physical, mental, religion, and psychological/ideological factors.
On the whole, women are found to possess strong passion, determination, dedication and drive for community development, leadership and service delivery at all frontiers. The capability and tenacity of women who find themselves in leadership roles are undeniable with unique transformational ideas, teamwork enhancement, better outcomes, new outlooks and perspectives. The OECD Gender and Development research show that women are responsible for half of the world’s food production and tend to be primarily responsible for feeding families. When given the opportunity to manage household finances, studies show that women are more likely than men to spend on their family’s nutritional needs, healthcare, and school fees for children. Unarguably, it is everyday reality staring at us how women stands at the gap bearing burdens for most families and communities. They deserve more!
However, when it matters most, the voices of women to a large extent are neglected. This is mainly traced to inherent discrimination, unequal access of women and girls to quality education, harmful traditional practices, unequal access to political participation, various forms of violence experienced specifically by women and girls (SGBV). Women often have limited access and control over resources. Many women as well youth are continuously finding it difficult to ascend leadership pedestals. They lack the needed support base.
In an effort to amplify global support for gender mainstreaming, the United Nations in 2015 launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also know as Agenda 2030. Within the goals, SDG no. 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” specifically aims for a world where every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and activates conscious actions towards empowering and giving women space and voice to contribute meaningfully to global development beginning from their immediate communities. Ultimately, SDG no. 5 shows that Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
In today’s evolving society, inclusion is the game-changer.
For Pst. Umo Eno, the resolve to have Senator Akon Eyakenyi as running mate is laudable and emphasizes his trust on capacity, dexterity and resourcefulness of women in leadership. The decision affirms his sensitivity to inclusive leadership and bolsters the understanding that the administration would pay attention to critical issues as pertains the yearning of women, the girl-child and children. The policy direction and aspirations of Umo Eno’s manifesto clearly highlight Women Empowerment as one of the focal sectors.
In Akwa Ibom State, there is in place gender-sensitive policies and laws to protect the rights of women, the girl-child and children; including the Widows protection law, Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law, the Child Right Act. These policies are fully backed by national laws and international frameworks such as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, The Child’s Rights Act (CRA) 2003, Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, Sexual Offences Act, Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003; African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa, AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN General Assembly Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The key principles in these instruments include non-discrimination, equality of rights, participation, individual autonomy and non-violence.
Availability of policies provides the pathways and legal stand-point for driving actions but that’s not all.
An aspect that is considered ‘the scale-up’ benchmark would be on the political will and commitment of the Administration on the effectiveness of implementing these policies.
It is expected that the Administration would invest in programs and initiatives that improves practices to strengthen gender mainstreaming at all levels of development with emphasis on;
- Providing expertise for integrating gender equality perspectives into the States development plan;
- Empowering women to increase access to resources;
- Improving the quality, effectiveness and impacts of programs and projects by ensuring that implementation match commitments to gender equality policies;
- Providing citizens with a forum to share experiences and disseminate good practice and innovative approaches for development to thrive.
Sustainable Development Advocate.
Governance for Development Initiative (G4D)