Ekiti State Governor’s wife, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, has bemoaned the increasing number of out-of-school children in the country.
Delivering the fifth Distinguished Lecture of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, titled: “Clapping with one hand: Female education, leadership and the quest for national development,” Mrs Fayemi said she was worried that 60 per cent of children not in school were girls.
She said statistics showed that the girl-child accounted for over six million out of the 10.5 million that lacked access to formal education.
She said this was one of the major impediments to the progress and leadership of women. For instance, she said women representation at the National Assembly and other levels of government was almost non-existent.
“If you look at the configuration of the National Assembly since 2011, women representation has always been very bad and this has not given women ample opportunity to participate in setting legal framework that regulates governance. It was better in 2011, dropped in 2015, but became worse in 2019,” she said.
She, however, predicted that with the efforts being made to sensitise women, there would be better representation in future elections.
Mrs Fayemi noted that atrocities committed by terrorist groups, such as Boko Haram, had devastating effects on millions of citizens, particularly women and children. This, she said, had disrupted the education of many children, with a dire implication for their future and that of the country.
She added that despite their successes and achievements, millions of women and girls still suffered from the feminisation of poverty, lack of access to basic resources, diseases, violent conflict and the complex use of culture, religion and tradition to render the female gender voiceless in the society.
“The gains of women are often eroded when faced with a combination of the following obstacles: Patriarchal power and privilege, violent conflict and displacement, lack of political will, religious and cultural conservatism, and ideological differences.
“Inaccessible political machinery and godfather’s syndrome, lack of financial investment required for political office, violence and intimidation, cultural and attitudinal barriers are major factors that are limiting women and reducing their capacities to rise to the top,” she said.
“Patriarchy is a system of male authority, which legitimises the oppression of women through political, social, economic, legal cultural, religious and military institutions.
“Men’s access to, and control over resources and rewards within the private and public sphere derives its legitimacy from the patriarchal ideology of male dominance,” she said.
She said these factors should not discourage the women from demanding for their rights.
Erelu Fayemi called for holistic implementation and enforcement of relevant laws that tend to tame gender inequality and promote women’s interest to enhance their relevance in all sectors.
She further advised women “to seek conceptual clarity on gender and feminism, to research use of legislative and policy framework, build a platform to make political demands, encourage inter-generational organising, engage in resource mobilisation, make educational institution safe for female gender, prepare for leadership and build a legacy that can attract public respect.”
At the event were the representative of Ondo State Governor, Dr Wumi Ilawole, a Special Adviser, Education, and wife of the Osemawe of Ondo, Olori Olayinka Kiladejo.