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Things will get better for Nigerian women – Minister

As Nigerian women join their counterparts across the world to mark the 2024 International Women’s Day, the Minister of Women Affairs, Barrister Uju Kennedy Ohanenye,…

As Nigerian women join their counterparts across the world to mark the 2024 International Women’s Day, the Minister of Women Affairs, Barrister Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, in this interview with Daily Trust, highlighted the efforts of her ministry in ensuring better welfare for the female folk.

How will you describe the state of women in Nigeria and what plans does your ministry have for them?

This particular Women’s Day is different. If you check how things have been since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu came on board, you will find out that a new Nigeria is coming. This is a new narrative towards everything. I’m assuring Nigerians, especially women that things will get better. The president has opened a door by providing sustainable empowerment machines for women. He is also working with the traditional rulers to get to the people at the grassroots, especially the vulnerable and rural women.

There is also an E-PBAT Cares programme for women, and E-market portal.  We are getting to the women and they are registering in their thousands every day.  What this does is that; whatever the government wants to give you comes to you directly because your account number is in that portal and nobody will give the money to a third party or a fourth party.  I can assure you that traditional rulers are involved, we use the local way of sensitizing people, informing them through the town criers in their languages to let them know what government is doing for them.

 

What are your areas of focus?

Our major area of focus is; sustainable economic empowerment. This is because before now almost all the money to help women were going to advocacies, consultancy meetings and trainings.  We have millions of Nigerians trained without anything to show for it; they are just walking about. They have nothing to start off with and we don’t want that anymore; that’s why we are focusing on sustainable empowerment. With that sustainable empowerment, those who have already been trained will be given something to do. We will empower them through cooperatives.  I believe we have consulted enough; let us utilize what we have done in that area. We are teaching them how to fish; helping them to sell the fish, and teaching them how to save the money and improve their lives.

 

How far have you gone with the plans to set up mobile courts to try GBV cases in states?

I don’t have challenges; but I am frustrated by some people trying to sabotage this. I am assuring you, like I said before, as far as the president and the governors are in support of this, no human being can frustrate it, because this is what Nigerian women and children need the most as we speak. No one is saying the mobile court will come and start taking up their cases. What we said is that initial action should be taken by the mobile courts, then those that they cannot handle, will go to regular courts.

When will these courts begin operation?

That is what I want the media to a fully follow up on. They should carry on this campaign so that they can facilitate the implementation of those mobile courts. Then, we will start writing to the states. We have gotten approval from the governors and we will start writing directly to the attorney generals through their governors to start implementing it. I assure you that in a short while, the implementation will start.

 

Nigeria has policies that protect the rights of women in the country like; the National Gender Policy among others, what are you doing to ensure full implementation of such policies?

The president is not holding us back; he is fully in support of the 35 per cent allocation for women. And whatever the president wants is what the ministry will do.  So, we should help ourselves. Women should help themselves too.

 

Is your ministry working with other partners to improve the lives of women?

I partner with other ministries and international partners, especially the Ministry of Health. The minister is doing a whole lot because he believes that almost 80 per cent of his job is focused on women. He doesn’t joke with it. Anything he is doing; he brings me in.  I engage with others too on women issues.

 

How do you monitor your empowerment programmes?

We started the PBAT Cares for women and the E-portal. We go to the rural areas; there is a link we forward to the women leader in each village and she will be the one to help us on board the women. If you go to villages; we have what we call community meetings. So, it is very easy to access them if they are sincere.  We are assessing them through the women community meetings, but you must be hard working to be part of it. Now, we are upgrading what we are doing by bringing in the royal fathers. The traditional rulers will make it easier for us to capture all the women.

 

What message do you have for Nigerian women on this International Women’s Day?

I want to assure them that I am ready to take action. I will not relent in defending the women folk. I have the backing of Mr President to protect them; that’s why he gave me the job in the first place. I will not relent in protecting the rights of Nigerian women. I am also begging women to please align themselves like the mothers that they are. They should maintain peace and order; both in their homes and in their communities.  Women should note that they are pace setters and must always live by example.  Finally, I wish all Nigerian women a Happy International Women’s Day.

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