The Edo State Partnership for Advancing Women in Economic Development (PAWED) is holding a one-day policy dialogue to reflect on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) intervention and programmes in the state.
The dialogue, which holds in Benin, the Edo State capital, on Tuesday, is anchored by the development Research and Project Centre (dRPC).
PAWED is a coalition that aims to build and nurture sustainable Nigerian Civil Society (CSO) advocacy to support leading WEE interventions at the national and states level.
The PAWED project works at the national level and in selected states in each of the six geopolitical zones to increase the salience of WEE amongst policymakers in Nigeria.
Expected at the high-level dialogue are some government officials working on budget and economic planning, social development and gender issues, skills development amongst others.
Some of the objectives of the event include increasing the salience of WEE amongst the government and to catalyse the state government to fulfil its commitments to WEE.
The dialogue also aims to establish a platform for productivity and continuous interface between the Edo State Women’s Economic Collectives and Women’s Economic Empowerment-related MDAs.
WEE is an intervention sponsored by the Gates Foundation, which believes that women’s economic empowerment is beneficial not only to individual women but also to their children, households, and communities.
The programme aims to help women and girls move from limited power, voice, and chores at home and in the economy to having the skills, resources, and opportunities needed to compete equitably and benefit from economic gains.
The Nigerian government had earlier inaugurated a technical working group for the pilot monitoring and evaluation framework for the WEE interventions.
Stay on this page as PREMIUM TIMES provides live updates of the policy dialogue scheduled to commence by 10:00 a.m.
9:40 a.m. – It’s a beautiful morning here in Benin city, Edo state. The temperature at the venue for the one-day policy dialogue is 28c.
9:45 a.m. – Participants are already trooping into the hall, while getting ready for the commencement of the event. Registration is also ongoing simultaneously.
9:50 a.m.: We are still awaiting arrival of dignitaries and government officials expected at the event.
10:10 a.m.: The event is yet to commence and registration is still on going.
10:12 a.m.: Currently on the high-table is the coordinator of Edo state PAWED, Vivian Evbotokhai and the Edo state consultant for PAWED. Others are expected to join soon.
10:25: The coordinator of Edo State PAWED, Mrs Evbotokhai, is about to make an announcement.
10:26: She said some invited guests are at the state house for a ceremony, hence the delay in arrival. She said this will further delay the commencement of today’s event.
10:27: She appeals to all participants to be relaxed while expecting the arrival of these guests.
10:42 am: Participants are all seated and expecting the arrival of invited guests.
10:48 am: All is set for the commencement of the event. The anchor of the event, Adesuwa Osa-uwagie welcomes the participants to the event.
10:49 am: Ms Osa-Uwagie said the dialogue is all about women’s empowerment. She introduces the guests to the high table.
10:50 am: The event begins with an opening prayer from one of the participants.
10:51 am: Currently on the high table is a representative of the Commissioner for Social Development and Gender Issues, Maria Edeko.
Also here is the Director of Planning, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Ebuwa Odeh
The director, donor agency, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Kingsley Ogbodu is also here.
10:53 am: The coordinator of Edo state PAWED, Mrs Evbotokhai, is set to give the opening remarks of the event.
10:54 am: She said today’s discussion is about every woman. She said a lot is expected of women in every society but there are challenges hindering the progress of women.
10:55 am: She said today’s event is to dialogue, brainstorm, discuss and arrive at a conclusion on ways to improve the lives of Edo women.
10:56 am: She said every woman in Edo state is important and deserves more.
10:58 am: Mrs Evbotokhai reads out the objective of the policy dialogue.
“To increase the salience of women’s economic empowerment amongst Government and women’s economic empowerment implementing MDAs.
“To catalyse the Edo State Government to fulfil their commitment for WEE.
“To establish a platform for productive and continuous interface between the Edo State Women’s Economic Collectives and Women’s Economic Empowerment Related MDAs.
“To discuss successes and challenges from implementing WEE’s Programmes and interventions in Edo state in 2021.
“To identify advocacy issues and area for targeted support.”
11:05 am: There are two panels for today’s dialogue.
The first panel’s session is on “Edo State investment in Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE); a review of WEE spending from Edo state’s budget for 2021 and 2022.
The second panel’s session is on “Successes and challenges from implementing WEE’s programmes and interventions in Edo state in 2021.”
11:09 am: The PAWED advocacy coalition team lead, Bliss Ojeruse, is leading the first panel:
11:10 am: Mrs Ojenese said WEE has been recognised as a bridge to glaring gender disparity across the globe.
11:12 am: She said it is recognised that investing in WEE through training and financial support boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes.
11:13am: She said according to a 2011 FAO report when a woman is given the same access to productive resources as men, on average they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30 per cent.
11:14 am: Mrs Ojenese also said investment in WEE helps to reduce gender issues relating to land acquisition by allowing women secure rights to land, reduce difficulties in securing labour and credit, and prevent inequitable access to herbicides, fertilisers, and extension services.
11:16 am: She said there is growing global evidence that shows that ensuring economic opportunities for women is an important entry point for ensuring better education, health, and nutrition outcomes for families.
11:18 am: Mrs Ojenese said the team reviewed the Edo Stateʼs government funding commitment to Women’s Economic Empowerment in annual appropriations between 2021 and 2022.
11:20 am: She said the analysis of the 2022 Edo budget followed a multi-stage design beginning with a desk review of key policy documents of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“This enabled us to categorise the MDAs according to the degree of relationship between their mandate and WEE. This led us to come up with one ministry whose mandates are core to women’s economic empowerment,” she said.
11:23 am: Mrs Ojenese said in 2022, the Edo State government gave three specific projects for the WEE projects.
“These include Edo Women for Agric Project – N10 million, Provision of equipment for women/economic empowerment – N20 million, and Construction and Installation of cages (Women and Youth empowerment programme – N10 million.
“In total, 40 million allocated to WEE in 2022 compared to N7 million in 2021,” she said.
11:24 am: She said apart from the above women-specific empowerment programmes, there are also funding opportunities under the state’s ministry of wealth creation cooperatives, and employment; Government house and protocol; Skill Development Agency; Ministry of Agriculture; as well as the Community & Social Development Project (CSDP) amounting to about N1.56 billion in the 2022 fiscal year, though not gender-disaggregated.
11:26 am: She said there is a need for coordination of WEE-related projects/programmes in the state.
11:28 am: She said there is a need for inter-ministerial, inter-departmental and inter-agency collaboration to ensure effective implementation of WEE and prevent duplications.
11:30 am: She calls for effective quarterly, half-year and annual stakeholder forums on WEE budget progress reporting.
11:32 am: The representative of Edo State First Lady, Ukinebo Dare, has arrived and is set to give her remarks.
11:33am: Ms Dare said although the First Lady, Betsy Obaseki, is passionate about women and child-related issues, she is unavoidably absent from the event.
11:35 am: She said the Edo State has budgeted lots of funds for women. She also said the First Lady has planned a programme for women in the state under the “Edo works” project.
11:36 am: She said the programme is specifically for women who intend to pursue a career in Tech.
11:37 am: Mrs Dare said the slots will be given based on merit and not by connections as assumed.
11:38am: She said the state has approved scholarships for 1,000 women to be on the ongoing programme.
11:39am: She also appealed to every interested person to apply to be part of the programme. She said all questions and enquiries about Edo
Works should be directed to 09056556134.
11:40 am: The panel discussion continues. Participants are asking questions and the panellists are responding simultaneously.
11:41 am: The participants query the failure of the state government to make public some information about ongoing programmes in the state.
11:42 am: The Director of Animal husbandry service, Ministry of Agriculture, Otamere Eno, who is also a panellist, said the government makes effort to ensure people are aware of existing programmes.
11:43 am: Mr Eno said more work will be done to ensure that all information and resources are made available to the right persons.
11:46 am: The second panel’s session is starting now. The title is “Successes and challenges from implementing WEE’s programmes and interventions in Edo State in 2021.”
11: 47 am: The Executive Director of Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO), Honestus Obadiora, said every intervention projected for women must be implemented.
11:48 am: Mr Obadiora said the government should also look into supporting women who experience fire outbreaks, especially in market places.
11:49 am: He said some politicians go to the market to campaign and share money for women but fail to show up when they experience a fire disaster.
11:50 am: He calls for social accountability in public programmes. He said more awareness is also needed to let people know about programmes and how they will impact people’s lives positively.
11:52 am: Precious Osawie, representing the Commissioner for Social Development and Gender issues, Maria Edeko, said women are seen as the most vulnerable in the society hence the need to empower women.
11:53am: Ms Osawie said women empowerment must also be sustained to achieve the required impact.
11:54 am: She said although men also need empowerment, there is a need to pay attention to women.
11:55 am: She said the agency has enrolled women in some LGAs in skills acquisition schemes. She said a starter pack is also provided for every woman to commence work.
11:57 am: She said more women need help but the insecurity in some areas of the state has prevented reach to those areas.
11:58 am: She lamented the lack of local and foreign donors to support the agency in carrying out its duties and reaching more women.
12:05 pm: The panellists are interacting through questions and answers. Some of the attendees raised questions on the stringent requirements expected from women before they can enrol in some cooperative programmes.
12:08 pm: The director of cooperatives, ministry of wealth creation, Alaba Okun, said efforts will be made to ensure a cut in registration fees into cooperatives.
12:10 pm: He said messages will be passed across to the Edo State Governor to reconsider the fees required for women to be part of the cooperatives.
12:13 pm: Ms Osawie said more sensitisation is needed for women to know their rights of empowerment.
12:14 pm: She said men will also be included in the sensitisation programme to enlighten them on the need to permit their wives to enrol in public programmes that aim to improve their lives.
12:16 pm: She said some women still believe that their husband is the one that needs to work while they stay at home and do chores.
12:18 pm: She said a lot of awareness is needed to change this existing narrative about women, especially those in rural communities.
2:23 pm: Responding to questions on young girls who still believe only a man needs to work, the director of cooperatives, ministry of wealth creation, Mr Okun, said mothers are also responsible for such mentality.
12:25 pm: He said parents have a lot to do to curb the rate at which young children, especially women are going astray.
12:27 pm: He said policymakers in both federal and state governments must also be involved in enlightening young children on the importance of working legally.
12:30 pm: Ms Osawie, the representative of the Commissioner for Social Development and Gender issues, also said young girls are looking for the fastest means of making money.
12:32 pm: She said many young girls no longer want to learn a trade or skill to improve their lives.
12:34 pm: She said more sensitisation is one of the ways to reduce these trending attitudes amongst children.
12:37 pm: A participant at the event, James Wisdom, made an observation. He said state governments need to collaborate with private organisations and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) to reach more women.
12:39 pm: Mr Wisdom said there must be a deliberate attempt to support women in every way possible.
12:42 pm: The event is gradually coming to an end and the Executive Director of LAPO, Mr Obadiora, is set to deliver the closing remarks.
12:43 pm: He applauds everyone for very robust dialogue.
12:44 pm: He said there are many pieces of research into women empowerment programmes.
12:45 pm: He said the government at the state level is doing enough to ensure women are empowered. He, however, said more can still be done to reach more women and improve more lives.
12:47 pm: He appeals to all officials present to keep their promises and ensure more women have the opportunities to live an impactful life.
12:50 pm: Mr Obadiora takes the closing prayers and It’s a wrap for the day.
12:51 pm: It’s time for a group photograph.