Benin — FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, said it would be difficult for governments at all level to achieve the desired economic and political growth if the challenges facing women in the country were not addressed.
"Affirmative action must be designed and implemented to give women an opportunity to acquire and exercise their knowledge, not just in health issues but also in many national issues. They must be part of decision making body. Contribution of women today in our national life cannot be over emphasized."
Governor Adams Oshiomhole, meantime, advocated the active participation of women in the democratic process, noting that, "women are more loyal voters than the men, yet they don't get what they deserve."
Obasanjo and Oshiomhole spoke during the 1st Dr. Abel Guobadia Memorial lecture, organised by Women's Health and Action Research Centre, WHARC, with theme, The Role of Women in Safe Guarding the Nation's Health.
Obasanjo said: "If women are shut out, national development in health and other sectors will be hard to realise. Majority of Nigerians, particularly women, are poor and they are susceptible to diseases and that is bad for any nation."
He regretted that women despite their efforts to the growth of the nation, have been marginalised in the country. "If about 50 per cent of our population are women, any thing that affects the bulk of that population affects the nation directly and this is in addition to the issues of direct effect on women's health, children and the family. The issue of women's health must be treated with the other issues of power, control and decision making."
Oshiomhole on his part, said: "We must make conscious efforts to encourage our women to participate, not by asking men to give them a chance. They must struggle to find a place to engage."