By Friday Idachaba
Governor Yahaya Bello said his administration is committed to the elimination of gender inequality in governance, discrimination, and violence against women and girls.
Bello made the declaration at an interactive dinner for the presentation and conferment of the “Most Gender-Sensitive Governor Award and decoration as a Goodwill Ambassador of Nigerian Women in Lokoja on Saturday.
He said that right from the moment he was inaugurated into office in his first tenure in 2016, he decided to be a unifier, a bridge-builder, and an advocate of gender equality.
Bello also resolved to pursue the elimination of Gender-Based Violence issues of Maternal and New Born Health as well as the rights of the girl child.
The governor said apart from the 30 percent affirmation threshold, his administration had surpassed the 5th point of the Sustainable Development Goals focusing primarily on the three primary targets of that goal.
“We have largely ended all forms of discrimination against women and girls in Kogi; secondly, we are working to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres including trafficking and sexual exploitation.
“Thirdly we are doing our best to eliminate all harmful practices such as child marriages, early and forced marriages, and such abhorrent cultural practices as female genital and facial mutilations,’’ he said.
Bello said that during the recently-concluded local government elections in the state, his administration set an off-limit target for men to encourage women at the grassroots and ensured that women occupied strategic positions.
“Today by this honour, the National Council for Women Societies (NCWS) has further thrust upon me, the great expectations and aspirations of Nigerian women both at home and abroad.
“When the NCWS, the apex umbrella of women societies came to bestow upon me the unprecedented honour of the most Gender-Sensitive Governor in Nigeria and decorated me as the `He for She’ Goodwill Ambassador for Nigerian Women, I am humbled, challenged, and encouraged at the same time,’’ he said.
Dr. Gloria Shoda, President NCWS in her address said: “Providing equal access to the public and economic opportunities to both men and women are vital to accomplishing a more sustainable economy and improving national well-being.’’
The NCWS president held that the composition of public institutions must reflect society for it to be perceived as legitimate, capable of delivering policies that are just, and upholding equality before the law.
“Ensuring gender balance in public decision-making has been increasingly highlighted as a key governance issue related to fairness, transparency and inclusive policy outcomes,’’ she said.
Shoda said that the political will exhibited by Gov. Bello was unprecedented in the history of Nigeria and required copious celebration as it represented a milestone worthy of emulation by other chief executives.