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Bauchi: Empowering Women as Agents of Change

| April 25, 2014 More

 Governor Isa Yuguda

Segun Awofadeji writes about the various efforts of the Bauchi State government to improve the lives of women to boost their capacity to bring about the much needed positive change in the country

One of the cardinal points of the policy thrust of the Governor Isa Yuguda administration, when it came into being on May 29, 2007, was the improvement of the lives of the vulnerable class among who are women, children and the destitute.
This is in consonance with the numerical strength of youths and women in the society. Women, the world over play dominant roles of mothers, producers and community leaders. Yet despite their vital contributions to societal growth and numerical strength, they are often marginalised in the scheme of services in the country.
Appreciative of the massive role of women and youths in bringing the administration into being, through nationwide acclaimed grassroots democratic struggle to usher in purposeful change in Bauchi state, various youth and women programmes were unfolded by the Governor Yuguda administration.

Girl-child Focus
So, as wife of the Bauchi State Governor, Hajiya Aisha Isa Yuguda was, on assumption of office as First Lady of the State in 2007, appointed the grand patron of the Girl-Child Education Project (GEP), a position she used to immediately address the abysmal situation of the Girl-child education in the state. The project has through her intervention and commitment since been replicated in all the 20 Local Government areas of the state.
Also, she has in the last seven years or so been committed to changing the lives of women and children in the state; and with the representation of women in party politics still at its lower ebb in the country, with low percentage of women in elective positions, she has been encouraging women in the state to stand and be counted.

Walking the Talk
In Nigeria, the 1999 constitution provides some fundamental rights and stipulates that the composition of the government must take cognisance of the diverse population in any jurisdiction while reflecting the federal character principle in appointment to agencies of government.
However, over the years in spite of the strategies and contributions in building virile and viable homes, women have been relegated to the background in the political, economic and social sphere of government. But since she assumed office as First Lady of Bauchi state, Hajiya Aisha has been consistent in helping women in the state put gender on the agenda.
Speaking in an interview with THISDAY on her activities in the last seven years, Yuguda said various efforts and intervention by her office, the Ministry of Women and Social Development as well as women groups have increased the momentum for achieving the 35 per cent affirmative action prescribed in the National Gender Policy (2006) through advocacy, capacity building for female aspirants, consultations, negotiation and lobbying.

Through the state Ministry of Women and Social Development, and Bauchi State Commission for Youth and Women Rehabilitation and Development (BACYWORD) women from the 20 Local Government areas of the state are trained in income-generating skills acquisition and given micro-credit finance to assist them in starting up entrepreneurial enterprises. A similar partnership also exists with the Poverty Alleviation Ministry in the state, resulting in a direct intervention at the grassroots for women who are most in need.
Hajiya Yuguda has repeatedly toured the 20 LGAs to enlighten the populace, especially the women, on the need to become more involved in government programmes which she continues to reiterate, are for the benefit of the people. Increased awareness in politics, health, education, agriculture, among others has been created as a result of her tireless efforts.

Challenging the Status Quo
In a keynote address during the 2014 International Women’s Day celebration with the theme ‘Inspiring Change’, the First Lady said the Day not only encourages advocacy for women’s advancement everywhere in every way, but it calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality without losing their responsibilities and roles as mothers and wives in the home front, and vigilance in inspiring positive change.
Hajiya Yuguda at the one-day public lecture, organised by the office of the First Lady and Development Initiative for African Women to commemorate the 2014 IWD held at the Iya Abubakar Resource Centre, Bauchi, noted that women are capable of making the difference by voting and being voted for at elections.
She said women’s equality has made positive gains but the world is still unequal, so the IWD celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing global attention on areas requiring further action.
“Nigeria needs to hear the voice of her women through active participation in governance,” she added, urging the women in Nigeria to find their voices and be able to express themselves and participate fully in governance, first by voting at elections and secondly by educating themselves and their children.

She added that her office has worked relentlessly with the present administration to translate policies into concrete actions for the women, children, the aged, orphans, the disabled, and other vulnerable members of the society.
Hajiya Yuguda challenged Nigerians to believe in the immense capacity and capability of the women folk in nation building in order to bring about the much needed positive change the country is yearning for.

Taking the Initiative
She said the Women for Change Initiative (WCI) was created to bring about a change in the lives of women through giving women soft loans for small scale businesses, providing support for lives of women for the better and generally enhancing the socio-economic and political status of women without losing their responsibilities and roles as mothers and wives in the home front.
She added that the political empowerment of women is one of her office’s higher priorities, saying that provision of logistics and material support were made to women coming forward for elective and appointive positions.
Hawking by girls, according to her, is a very serious child abuse yet a common phenomenon in many communities in the Northern part of the country. The practice exposes the child especially girls who hawk to many dangers such as sexual abuse, abduction, maiming or killing for ritual purposes and above all deprived of education.
However, since the birth of her pet project, Nigerian Girls Education Initiative (NGEI), the Governor’s wife popularly called ‘Mama Girl Child Education’ has not rested on her oars in advancing the fortunes of girls’ education in the hitherto educationally disadvantaged Bauchi state.
Through her advocacy/sensitisation tour of all the 20 local government areas of the state on importance of girls’ education and the distribution of free books and uniforms to pupils and students of primary and secondary schools across the state, enrolment figures of girl-child in various schools in the state have tremendously increased.
According to her, “I don’t run an NGO. My husband, his Excellency Malam Isa Yuguda, asked me to oversee all the government ministries and agencies that deal with women and children in the state. I have particularly worked closely with the ministries and the agencies in the education sector, the health sector, and women and youth empowerment; that is where I have concentrated my effort in the last seven years.
“That is not to say that we haven’t done other things but those are primarily the areas that we have spent a good deal of time and resources; making sure that our children especially the girl children have access to sound basic education and we are trying to campaign or sensitise the parents and the communities on the ills of early marriage”, she added.
According to Hajjia Yuguda, “We also embarked on the programme called Married Adolescent Programme (MAP) aimed at not only giving married women the opportunity to be educated but also to be self-employed. We found out that the programme was being poorly run. So, I gave my husband a comprehensive report of what I saw first-hand and he then called for a complete review of the way the programme was being implemented.

“Then I called for a stakeholders meeting and we now agreed that for the programme to be run adequately we have to adopt a multi-sectoral approach. We were very successful in making sure that provision for the married adolescent programme being operated as married women secondary school in the state was properly and adequately captured in the budget and it is now been implemented or executed,” she said.

In collaboration with UNICEF, Bauchi state SUBEB and other development partners, Hajiya Yuguda has been resolute in stemming the tide of decreasing girl enrolment in primary and secondary schools. She has not only recorded success in this regard but also caused an increase in the retention and completion figures of these girls in both primary and secondary schools in the state.

Category: Bauchi State News

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