03 March 2020

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It gives me great pleasure to be here this morning, to welcome you all to the 4th Ekiti Gender Summit. This summit, which we began convening during the JKF1 years (2010-2014) is meant to serve as an information, sensitization and networking forum for women and men from Ekiti and beyond, who are interested in gender equality and women’s empowerment. As is often the case, people grow wary of meetings which seem to only serve as places where ideas are exchanged, resolutions are made, but nothing practical ever seems to come out of the discussions held, till the next time the meetings are convened all over again, only for the rhetoric to be repeated. I am however pleased to note that the Ekiti Gender Summit does not fall into that category of meetings.


The issues that are discussed at the Ekiti Gender Summits and the resolutions agreed, are followed up meticulously by the relevant parties. The first Ekiti Gender Summit which took place in November 2011, was concerned with how the administration of Dr Kayode Fayemi would mainstream gender issues effectively in Ekiti State. Subsequently, the Ekiti State government undertook a Gender Audit, to ascertain the level of technical, material and financial investments that would be required to effectively mainstream gender in Ekiti State. The findings of this report served to strengthen the government’s commitment to implementing the Ekiti State Gender Policy which was launched in October 2011.


The second Ekiti Gender Summit in November 2012, had the theme Women and Human Security, taking a holistic view of the well-being and welfare of women, and the critical responsibilities of the State in ensuring a level playing field for development. One of the highlights of the 2012 summit was a discussion on Gender Budgeting and its importance to gender mainstreaming. This resulted in a high level of awareness amongst key line ministries, departments and agencies in the State, of the importance of addressing these concerns in their planning.


The theme for the 3rd Ekiti Gender Summit  2013 was  ‘Women’s Health and Safety’, and was  aimed at addressing two interwoven issues of concern – the critical importance of prioritizing women’s health, and the need to keep women and girls safe from violence.


During the four years of the JKF1 administration from October 2010 – October 2014, the state government invested significant resources in women’s health, economic empowerment, education and social welfare. There were a range of laws and policies put in place to provide a solid framework for the promotion of the rights of women and children in the State, as well as a roadmap to ensure the sustainable implementation of all these commitments. On the whole, in theory and in practice, these frameworks sent a strong message about the premium placed on the value of women and children in Ekiti State.


The momentum and political will that gender equality and women’s empowerment issues received during the JKF1 years waned after the administration left office. With the return of HE DR John Kayode Fayemi as Ekiti State Governor in October 2018, the JKF2 period commenced and the women of Ekiti had cause to rejoice again. The past seventeen months have witnessed a range of efforts aimed at building on the gains that had been secured during the JKF1 period. Ekiti is now known as the State that has the most comprehensive legal and policy frameworks in the country to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. Today, we are going to present to you a Compendium of all the Laws and Policies that protect the rights of women, men and children in Ekiti State.


The theme for the 4th Ekiti Gender Summit is Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Post Beijing: Political Will and Impact. The year 2020 is the 25th anniversary of the famous UN Beijing Conference for Women. I was based in London at the time, and was the Executive Director of AMwA, an international development organisation for African women. I was responsible for a group of 20 women from the UK, other European countries and some from Africa. We arrived in the hotel at Beijing around 11am. I did not finish checking in till 4pm, my colleagues left me there to go to their rooms while I was there at the front desk. I tried to explain to the person who first attended to me that some people in our group would be leaving on certain dates and others would come in to take their place, so the bookings we had would not change, only the names of the occupants of the rooms. It was a simple request, or so I thought. After listening to me for a while, the Chinese guy said, ‘Wairamini’ (Wait a minute) and called someone else to listen to me. I had to start all over again with this new person, only for him to ask me to ‘Wairamini’ while he called someone else. I had to tell the same story four times, growing increasingly frustrated but knowing that it would be eventually sorted out, I just needed to keep explaining till everyone understood. It never occurred to me 25 years ago that I would be standing before audiences, bearing witness to what it was like back then to be a part of a global movement of 50,000 women and men who went to Beijing, both physically and figuratively.


I am delighted that today, my big sister, teacher, mentor and friend, Professor Olabisi Aina, founder of the Center for Gender Studies EKSU and former Director of the Center for Gender and Social Policy Studies OAU is here today to give the Keynote Address and reflect on the importance of political will and how it determines impact.


The progress of African women since Beijing has been one of ten steps forward and five steps back, with many ‘Wairamini’ moments where we have had to say the same thing over again to different audiences. Nigerian women cannot afford to ‘Wairamini’ anymore. Ekiti women should not have to ‘Wairamini’. We need to see all the guarantees and promises made by our governments all those years ago mean something in the lives of ordinary women. Nigerian women still continue to live in dire poverty, still continue to suffer the effects of violent conflict, they still continue to die giving birth and they still continue to be violated throughout their lifecycle.


Here in Ekiti State, we can at least say we have a government that understands what it means to make women equal stakeholders in development. We have a Governor who we do not need to beg to do the right thing for women, children, the elderly, those with special needs and many who struggle on the margins of society. At this summit we intend to take stock of how far we have come over the past ten years, for better and for worse. We also intend to analyse the gaps that still exist and understand the hard work and commitments that are required ahead. Tomorrow, the second day of the summit, we will have a Community Forum, to celebrate International Women’s Day with more women from all over the State.


I would like to thank my beloved husband, comrade and friend, HE Dr Kayode Fayemi, the Governor of Ekiti State. Thank you very much YE for being such a strong champion of women’s rights, for being an unapologetic feminist and for your leadership and strong political will to promote gender equality.


This summit has been convened with the support of the Forum of Women in Leadership and the Forum of Spouses of Ekiti State Officials, two important networks that were established during the JKF1 years and have recently been revived. I thank you all for your support and solidarity.  I would like to thank my sisters, Your Excellences who have come from other South West States to support us. I thank all those, too numerous to mention, who have made this summit possible in so many ways. I thank all the members of the Planning Committee, and the staff of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, particularly the Honourable Commissioner Chief (Mrs) Moji Fafure and the Permanent Secretary Dr Eunice Oladimeji. I also deeply appreciate the hard work of all the staff in my office.


Together, we can all strive for a better world in which all men, women, girls and boys will be valued. A world in which we will thrive. A world in which no one will have to live in fear of violence. A world in which we will all be proud to be people of honour from the Land of Honour. Welcome to the 4th Ekiti Gender Summit, 2020.


Thank you and God bless you all.

Erelu Bisi Fayemi

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