Calabar — The Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade has empowered over 300 women in the state with appointments into various public offices since he assumed office about two years ago, the state Commissioner for women Affairs, Mrs. Stella Odey has disclosed.
Speaking at a recent forum in Calabar the state capital tagged 'Nigeria Women Interact for Peace Building', which was organised by a not-for-profit organisation - the Burst Development Initiative - the commissioner said apart from the fact that more women were given appointments that could be termed political, hundreds of more women have been gainfully employed in various government agencies since Ayade assumed office in May, 2015.
Odey said the appointment of the women into public office was the highest in Nigeria, in terms of politically empowering women, and getting them involved in running the affairs of a state. She described Ayade as gender friendly, saying the state has even gone beyond 35 per cent affirmative action.
The commissioner said aside from the appointment of women into political positions, the administration under Ayade has created employment for numerous women.
"The government is initiating policies and programmes that promote the welfare of women. For instance, the Cross River garment factory has 95 per cent of women as its workforce. This is among many other programmes this government has," she said.
She said women in the state have shown that they can be entrusted with top responsibilities given the way they have discharged the various assignments given to them.
Also speaking, a former deputy governor of Plateau State, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, said women can make a difference in the country and need to be brought out from the attitude of complacency and thinking they cannot achieve anything.
Tallen said women are meant to complement the role of men and should be co-helpers, supporters and core instruments to make things better. She urged women should shun differences between themselves and to help each other succeed.
The former minister said women should always promote peace wherever they found themselves, whether in the family, politics or any other sphere of life.
"There can be no meaningful national development if a greater percentage of women are neglected. Women are not competing against men but should have their rightful place for the benefit of the entire society," Tallen said.
Coordinator of Burst Development Initiative, Edema Irom, said it was time for women to burst forth and take advantage of the many opportunities available to them to develop themselves and the society.
Irom said one of their major objectives is to make sure government policies and programmes, particularly as it affects women, provide windows of economic opportunities for women.
One of the high points of the event was the presentation of a keynote address on the "Effect of Conflict on the Economic Development of Women: An Overview of the Nigerian Situation", by Prof. Dorothy Olu-Jacob.