By Ojo Oluwafemi, Akure
The Wife of Ondo State governor, Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu on Monday reiterated her commitment toward reducing the rate of poverty among women in the society.
The Ondo first lady made this known at pep talk delivered at BEMORE GIRLS family reunion at the Government House in Akure, the state capital.
She said her mission in government was “to engender self-awareness among women, girls and equip them to fight feminised poverty’’.
Mrs Anyanwu-Akeredolu added that she had strategically approached women empowerment through her private organisation, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Foundation (BAAF) by confronting the age-long patriarchy that limited young girls’ potential to aspire and compete favourably with their male counterparts.
According to her, BEMORE methodology is strategic for so many reasons and it is taking advantage of the young age of girls by catching them young.
“At a younger age, girls compared to older women are more malleable such that it becomes easier to change unfavourable gender perceptions that relegate women to the background as mere second-class humans in almost every sphere of life.
“This is the only way we can foster a new era of gender equality, equity and ultimately combat feminised poverty.
“BEMORE Academy is a school of life, where girls receive training on diverse life-enhancing themes such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as health and environment and taekwondo for self-defence.
“The girls are also trained in vocational skills like bead making, shoe making, gele and make-over, fashion designing and confectionaries.
“The STEM training focuses on basic renewable energy modules (solar panel construction and installation) and the Information and Communication Technology training deals with basic computer appreciation, coding, gaming, etc.
“Without mincing words, it has been a memorable and impactful three years journey from 2017 to 2019 in the BEMORE Empowered Academy.
“We have had wonderful testimonials from over 1000 graduates; many of whom have now gone ahead to blaze the trail in higher institutions of learning and other settings they have found themselves.
“Every BEMORE girl leaves training camp with a brand new ideology and perspective to life as a girl child, and is now ready to confront and overcome societal limitations.
“She is prepared to leapfrog all gender-related obstacles to the development of the girl-child; this is the BEMORE legacy,” she said.
The first lady also said that the fourth edition of the BEMORE Empowered Initiative Summer Boot Camp could not hold this year due to lockdown restrictions imposed by the government following global recommendations to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“The only way we could sustainably achieve women empowerment and combat feminised poverty in Nigeria was to continue to encourage and empower young girls educationally, socially, economically and politically.
“We must look forward toward a brighter post COVID-19 for our girls; the logic is simple and clear – women are natural caregivers and when you train a girl you train a nation.
“If a nation must defeat poverty, it must first defeat feminised poverty. Indeed, you cannot eliminate poverty if you don’t empower women.
“I remain committed to the development of the girl-child, and no doubt the BEMORE empowered initiative will be back.
“Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, I had a virtual Zoom meeting with my girls sometime in May this year.
“I was elated to see my BEMORE girls share their COVID-19 lockdown experiences and what they had been doing in the face of the pandemic.
“It was inspiring to hear them talk about birthing amazing ideas impacting other girls and their communities,” she said.
Anyanwu-Akeredolu also observed that the Zoom meeting held in May, 2020 afforded her the opportunity to educate the girls on COVID-19 safety precautions, adding that it was able to extend caring hands to the girls and their families by providing palliatives to cushion the economic hardships associated with the pandemic.