WorldStage Newsonline– Nigeria’s First Lady, Dr Aisha Buhari has advised that training of women, youth and the girl-child, will heighten chances of female political leadership and inclusiveness.
Speaking at weekend, during 1st Edition of the Women and Youth Leadership Symposium of the ECOWAS Parliament Female Parliamentarian Association (ECOFEPA), she urged stockholders to explore workable solutions that can uplift the status of women, youth and the economy.
At the event which took place at ECOWAS Parliament, the Nigeria’s First Lady said Aisah Buhari Foundation and Future Assured Programmes had made numerous contributions in improving the lives of women, youth and children by providing education to the less privileged, provision of scholarships, healthcare and empowerment.
She said, “The challenges of climate change on our environments and its effects on our socio-economic conditions have some devasting effects on our lives. The role of women and youths is not isolated but what is most important is exploring ways of cushioning the effects of the so desperate and hopeless situations that we find ourselves today.
“While we struggle to find solutions, we should not be unmindful of the vicious cycle that has deepened our structural vulnerabilities, transcending into poor economic conditions and conflict situations that imposed hardships, particularly on women, youth and children.
“On the part of the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM), several efforts have been made in promoting peace and development.
“Through the instrumentation of the AFLPM, complementary efforts in managing conflict situations locally were explored. It is important to mention that the interventions made by the African First Ladies have helped in supporting women, youth and children across the continent.
“Many projects and programmes were mounted including empowerment of women and youth and, provision of relief materials to the millions of Africans trapped in humanitarian crises across the continent.
“We all know that numerous opportunities are flying everywhere but only the entrepreneurial minds succeed in tapping these opportunities. In line with the thinking of ECOFEPA to empower women and the girl-child, let us strategize more to educate and build a strong, peaceful and reliable nation.”
She however, noted that the African First Ladies cannot do it alone with Members of the ECOFEPA, without the involvement of other critical stakeholder, adding that “It is natural and more beneficial if we come together to make it happen. I believe we can!”
On his part, President ECOFEPA, Hon. Woraye Sarr, explained that the ECOFEPA provided the female parliamentarians of ECOWAS the opportunity to equip women and youth through legislation to boost diverse representation and participation in matters concerning West Africa.
He said, “As we know, development, diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand, a correlation that has been shown repeatedly in some of the most developed countries in the world such as Norway, Iceland and New Zealand which have a higher proportion of women and young people in positions of leadership and key decision-making, compared to developing countries.
“May I also add that these are some of the happiest countries in the world. With the new ECOWAS vision 2050 of creating a fully integrated community with strong institutions that respect fundamental freedoms, and working towards inclusive and sustainable development, the ECOFEPA mandate is more important now than ever. One of the five key pillars of this vision is ‘Social Inclusion’ with its strategic objectives being to create a Community of peoples, fully inclusive of women, children and youth.
“This therefore calls each of us to action to promote inclusion and strengthen social cohesion and gender diversity to promote development and social progress. This will no doubt bring us closer to the ECOWAS we want.
“It is no secret that there is insufficient political representation of females and youth in the sub-region. A huge part of this Leadership Symposium is therefore to create awareness and interest amongst our participants as we are faced with a ‘chicken and egg’ problem where there is limited representation within these groups to look up to as role models, naturally making a career in politics and leadership seem less attainable and attractive, leading back to less representation. “We need to break the cycle, we need to show the females and youth the full range of options available to them, make them aware that they can achieve, while ensuring we equip them to become whatever it is that they want to be.”