By Solomon Umanah
Akwa Ibom women have frowned at the recent rejection by the National Assembly of proposals for constitutional amendment aimed at giving women special seats in the National and State Houses of Assembly as well as the 35 per cent affirmative policy for women.
The women, who spoke recently through the state commissioner for women affairs and social welfare, Dr IniAdiakpan, who made the position of the women known while addressing the leadership of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, at the end of the road, walk embarked upon by the women as part of activities marking year 2022 International Women’s Day, said the essence of the road walk, apart from improving the women’s physical wellbeing, was aimed at sensitizing the public on issues of gender equality and discrimination against women in all ramifications. \
Adiakpan, who lauded Gov Udom Emmanuel and wife, Dr Martha for their unwavering commitment at ensuring the inclusion of women at all levels of governance, said through the efforts of the duo there has been an enhanced visibility of women at decision making positions in the state, stressing, “This is why Akwa Ibom women are hugely indebted to His Excellency for being a promise keeper in all areas of his leadership template.
Disclosing further the position of the women, Adiakpan pointed out that the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow came as a wake-up call from the United Nations for all stakeholders to review their prevalent positions and attitudes toward women, with a view to according them dignity and space to explore their God-given talents and abilities without recourse to obnoxious traditional beliefs, customs and other sociological norms, adding that Akwa Ibom women were fully determined to sustain the tempo of advocacy through continuous exposure of the dangers of treating women and the girl-child as second-class citizens, thereby depriving them of their inalienable rights.
While condemning all forms of sexual, emotional and psychological abuse of women and the girl-child by those stronger than them, the women affairs boss said Akwa Ibom women were prepared to deploy all legal instruments to ensure that defaulters were brought to book. She reiterated the commitment of the women to collaborate with relevant authorities, individuals and corporate organizations to ensure that more laws aimed at protecting the cause of women were enacted, while abdicating for speedy implementation of the already passed laws.
Adiakpan, who thanked the people of Akwa Ibom, particularly the menfolk for their relentless support toward various advocacies carried out by women in the state, urged the women and the female children to take advantage of the opportunities available to them in order to better their lot in the society, while avoiding social vices such as prostitution, pilfering, laziness,among others.
Responding on behalf of the leadership of the House, the clerk, Mrs Mandu Umoren, said that Akwa Ibom House of Assembly had always been gender sensitive, as evidenced in the composition of the House and the management cadre of the Assembly where she disclosed that 70 per cent of the current management staff were women.
She listed some of the bills passed into law by the current Assembly as; Child’s Rights Law, Widows Protection Rights, Compulsory Medical Treatment and Care for Children who were Victims of Sexual Violence, Protection for Physically Challenged and other Vulnerable Persons Against Discrimination Law, among others.
The clerk who conveyed the House of Assembly’s goodwill message on the International Women’s Day celebration to the governor’s wife through Adiakpan, pledged onward transmission of the women’s position paper to the leadership of the Assembly, assuring that the House will not hesitate to give maximum support toward any issue concerning the women and the girl-child in the state.
The women who walked from the Ibom Hall gate through Aka Road to Udo Udoma Avenue in large number chanted solidarity songs with placards which read, “All We Are Saying, Give Us 35 per cent”, and ” No More Bias”, expressed happiness that their message had been thoroughly delivered.
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