Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), Cecilia Bolaji Dada, has reiterated the need to empower more women and youth to contribute meaningfully to economic development. Dada spoke on Tuesday at a one-day women and youth empowerment workshop organised by the ministry at the Women Development Centre (WDC), Agege.

The workshop was themed ‘Feminization of Skills Acquisition and Human Capability Development among Unemployed Women and Youth in Lagos in Covid-19 Era’. Dada, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Oluyemi Kalesanwo, said that the theme was quite apt considering the role of women and youth as home and nation builders. “It is evident that if more women and youth are empowered in the informal sector, they will not only become invulnerable, they will also contribute greatly towards the economic growth of the country,” she said. Dada disclosed that the male gender is dominating the career profession both in the formal and informal sectors, with a few women trying to find their voices.

She, however, said there is now a paradigm shift in the trend as more women are proficient and distinctive in the formal sector as well as the political sphere. She lauded the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration for demonstrating a strong resolve to harness the potential of women and youth. “It is the conviction of Mr. Governor that women and youth are essential through their massive roles as home and nation builders,” she noted. Dada further disclosed that WAPA has graduated over 10,000 trainees from the government-owned skills acquisition centres in the last two years. This, she said, has provided empowerment for many women and youth free of charge. She urged the general public to report anyone demanding payment to access any of the training programmes. While stressing that WAPA has 20 skills acquisition centres, which are targeted at supporting indigent women and the youth towards the path of self-reliance and financial independence, she said some of the trainees have become employers of labour.

The commissioner further disclosed that the government, through WAPA, rendered livelihood support of N20,000 each to over 1,450 women in 2020, while another 1,500 women benefitted from the same gesture during this year’s International Widows’ Day. On COVID-19, Dada enjoined Lagosians to remain vigilant, stressing that they must continue to adhere strictly to all guidelines and protocols put in place to curb the spread of the virus.

Considering the loss of economic opportunities arising from the fallout of the pandemic, she advised more women and youth to be involved in enterprises that readily conform to the COVID-19 protocols. “On our part as a government, we will continue to create more opportunities to enhance the socio-economic advancement of Lagosians, particularly women and the youth,” she said.

Dada encouraged individuals, the private sector and non-governmental organizations to contribute their quota to the noble cause geared towards women and youth emancipation as well as the sustained prosperity in the state. Earlier in her welcome address, Deola Adepoju, director, Women Development Centre, Agege, stated that the Sanwo-Olu administration is firmly convinced that the future of the state and indeed the entire country lies in the hand of women and youth. Hence, they must continually be empowered, especially towards achieving the United Nations 17 Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs).

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