By Solomon Umanah
A total of 54,000 women in Akwa Ibom, drawn from the three pilot centres of Onna, Oruk Anam and Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Areas are to benefit from the World Bank assisted project – Nigeria for Women Project (NFWP).
The commissioner for women affairs and social welfare, Dr Ini Adiakpan, who disclosed this, recently, in Uyo, while declaring open a 5-day orientation workshop organised for State Project Coordinating Unit, SPCU, Local Field Supervisors (LFS) and Women Affinity Group Support Officers (WAGSOs), involved in the project, said NFWP was a World Bank-assisted Project implemented in six states of the federation selected as pioneer states with each state representing its geo-political zone, hence, she said the selection of Akwa Ibom from the South-South zone, adding that Onna, Oruk Anam and Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Areas were the three local government areas selected for the take-off of the project in the state.
She said the workshop was aimed at strengthening the capacity of all state level project implementing staff and gain a common understanding to fast-track the implementation of the accelerated plan of the Nigeria For Women Project.
Adiakpan lauded Gov Udom Emmanuel and wife, Dr Martha Emmanuel, for their gender-friendly disposition toward women as demonstrated through massive economic empowerment of women in the state, as well as implementation of NFWP in Akwa Ibom, noting that such decision had enhanced gender equality, economic and social empowerment of the women.
The women affairs boss observed that the rapid population increase in societies had positioned women as the bed rock of their families’ survival with little or no income for sustenance,expressing the hope that the implementation of NFWP, whose aim is to improve the livelihoods of women, thereby inputting societal relevance on them will correct the anomalies.
Adiakpan, who commended the World Bank team and the Federal coordinating unit for their efforts in ensuring smooth take-off of the project in Akwa Ibom, observed with concern that the rapid urbanization and breakdown of traditional family ties had resulted in the growing number of street children in the urban areas, disclosing that her ministry had put in place mechanism for taking the children off the streets and providing them with shelter for subsequent reintegration with their families. She, however, expressed the hope that through the implementation of NFWP in the state, the financial literacy of women will increase, thereby leading to a decline in the number of street children, as well as enhanced family structures through livelihoods support.
While urging the State Project Coordinating Unit, the World Bank team and the Federal project coordinating unit to work assiduously with a view to achieving the envisaged goals, Adiakpan noted that the painstaking trainings that are organized by NFWP for the beneficiaries will set the country in an upward projection, raise the business consciousness of women, as well as enhancing family ties.
She further disclosed that the beneficiaries will be trained in savings, financial education, business skills, gender and life skills, grievance redress mechanism, as well as business plan development, pointing out that grant will be given to successful participants to improve their businesses at the end of the project.
The commissioner hoped that the implementation of NFWP project in the state would improve the livelihoods of women,thereby enabling them to contribute their quota toward the development of the society.
The senior technical adviser for the World Bank on Nigeria for Women Project, Dr Temitope Sinkaiye, thanked GovernorEmmanuel for his role in bringing the project to the state.
She thanked the task team leader, Mr Michael Ilesanmi, for facilitating the involvement of other state coordinators with a view to ensuring speedy execution of the project in the state.
The state project coordinator, Ofonime Etuknwa, Esq, lauded the governor for his tremendous support to the project which,she said, was geared toward enhancing economic livelihoods of the women.
She said that Akwa Ibom was the only state in the south-south zone that had been included in the project and advised the participants to make judicious use of the opportunity offered them in order to achieve smooth implementation of NFWP in the state.
The permanent secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, who is also the chairman, Technical Committee of the project, Mrs Margaret Edem, expressed the hope that the project will be successfully implemented in Akwa Ibom and appealed to all participants to take the exercise seriously.