UN decorates Gov AbdulRazaq ‘HeforShe ambassador’, says Kwara gold standard in gender inclusion

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United Nations Women, an agency of the world body, has decorated Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq as a global ‘HeforShe champion’ for his supportive policies on women.

UN Women is the UN organisation that delivers programmes, policies, and standards that uphold women’s human rights and ensure that every woman and girl lives up to her full potential.

The body said the Governor has made Kwara a gold standard for gender mainstreaming in not just Nigeria but in the world, adding that the award, especially the lapel pin tacked to his chest, means that the Governor is now a UN Women ambassador anywhere he goes to in the world.

Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Beatrice Eyong, who led a delegation on a courtesy visit to Government House, Ilorin, said the Governor merits the global honour for his exceptional dedication to gender inclusion, women empowerment, and overall development, as have been recorded in Kwara in the last five years.

An initiative of the Governor, the administration had in 2021 enacted a Gender Composition Law, which mandates Kwara to have at least 35% gender representation in all public sector appointments

Eyong said Kwara is a shining example for giving women their fair share of representation in governance.

“Kwara State is a very important state to women, and one of the reasons the state is important to us is because of what you have done in the state. We are here to thank and congratulate you for all that you’ve been doing over the years for gender equality, women empowerment and overall development,” she said shortly before decorating the Governor with the UN Women badge.

“You have made Kwara state a shining example in that regard. We are here to recognize you as a UN Women Global HEforSHE Champion. We learnt that in your first term in office, we had a female majority cabinet. And we’ve learnt that we now have a 50/50 cabinet in the state.

“We also learnt that the majority of the appointments that you make go to women and youth. Those are real progressive moves that you are doing. You have created a favourable environment for gender equality and women empowerment by passing affirmative action into law. These are parts of the reasons we chose kwara.”

Eyong requested AbdulRazaq to speak with his colleagues at the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to equally adopt 35 per cent affirmative action on gender inclusion, noting this will stimulate the federal government to adopt the policy.

She said they were partly in Kwara to inform the Governor about the UN Women’s advocacies on issues and programmes affecting women, such as a training on low cost biogas technology that she said is targeted at easing cooking for women.

“Low-cost biogas is a technology that has so many advantages for our women. With low-cost biogas technology, women can produce their own cooking gas. And that will mean that they don’t need to buy charcoal, kerosine, or cut firewood,” she said.

Eyong said the biogas programme is due for launch in Kwara next month, while similar initiatives will also be flagged off in the state ahead of any other states owing to its strategic importance to the UN Women.

She requested the Governor to consider another legislation that gives women more access to public sector contracting process as a form of economic empowerment, saying 90% of government’s contracts go to enterprises owned by men while women struggle with just 10%.

She also requested the Governor to rally the political establishments to support women for elective positions.

They were received by the Governor alongside the First Lady Ambassador Mrs Olufolake AbdulRazaq; Commissioner for Women Affairs Bosede Olaitan Buraimoh; Commissioner for Business, Innovation and Technology Damilola Yusuf Adelodun; Commissioner for Water Resources Usman Lade; and Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Duties Alhaji Abdulrazhaq Jiddah.

The Governor, for his part, thanked the organisation for the honour, which he said will encourage him and others to do more.

Governor AbdulRazaq said he has no regrets appointing women to key positions because “they have done so well.”

“I thank you for the award as a Global HeforShe champion. It encourages us to do more. If you see what is going on in other states you could see we have to put on a lot of energy in it to achieve what we have been able to achieve and will continue to achieve,” he said.

“When we came in 2019, there was no single elected female official in Kwara State. By the time we crossed over to 2023, we have five members in the State House of Assembly. It was a deliberate advocacy, and we hope to make more progress in the next elections.

“By and large, we are crushing the stereotype that ‘women can’t do this, women can’t do that, no one should vote for women’. I think we are getting to a stage where what matters is the performance and what you do for the people, not your gender. The women we have put into public offices do not disappoint us. They are doing very extremely well.”


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