Dr. Lola Akande is the Lagos Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. In this interview with Muritala Ayinla, she speaks on women development and poverty reduction as means to attaining sustainable economic growth.
How has your ministry alleviated poverty in the last one year? In the last one year, the Ministry, through the Women Affairs Department, organised series of programmes and activities aimed at improving the status of women in Lagos State and making them economically independent, financially viable and self reliant. In the skill acquisition training and empowerment programmes, we have what we call Short-Term Vocational Skill Acquisition Training Programmes.
The Short- Term Vocational Skill Acquisition Training Programmes were organised to tackle unemployment situation of Women and Young Female Adults, Widows, Indigent/ Vulnerable Women, Women Living with Health challenges and disabilities, Female Civil Servants exiting from active Service and Women in Lagos State in general, with the firm assurance that the skills acquired will create income–generating ventures for beneficiaries.
During the period under review, the Ministry through the Women Affairs Department, organized various Short-Term Vocational Skill Acquisition Programmes spanning 3 – 4 weeks in courses such as: Hair Braiding/Weaving, Tie & Dye, Event Decoration, Pastries & Food Production, Soap & Pomade Making, Hat Making, Make-up & Gele Tying Beed Stringing and Stove Tread & Insecticide Productions.
In the year under review, the Short Term Skill Acquisition Training Programmes successfully executed are as follows: 3- 4 Weeks Skill Acquisition Training for 250 Retiring Public Servants at the Chapel of Christ the light Hall between 25th September to 21st October, 2017; 3- 4 weeks Skill Acquisition Training for 300 Widows at the Women Development Centre, Agege, between 25th of September to 21st October, 2017.
What categories of women benefitted from the trainings, any discrimination at all? In line with Governor Ambode’s all-inclusive government, there was no discrimination whatsoever. We also organised 3weeks Skill Acquisition Training for 150 Women living with HIV/ AIDS in Ikeja, from 4th to 21stDecember 2017; 3- 4 weeks Skill Acquisition Training for 250 Vulnerable Women at the Epe Local Government, from 4th to 21st December 2017; and3- 4 weeks Skill Acquisition Training for 250 Vulnerable Women at the MDG Centre, Ajara Vento Badagry, from 22thJanuary to 15th February, 2018.
At the end of each training session, participants were given certificates and Also in order to expose the citizens to the modern method of marketing their products, the Ministry collaborated with HI Technology to organize an Entrepreneurial Digital Training (online marketing for participants of Skill Acquisition Programme) for 300 Women on 27th September 2017 at Prestige.
What other key roles does your ministry do to mitigate the effects of poverty? WAPA, especially the Skill Acquisition Unit of the ministry is saddled with the responsibility of managing and maintaining the Ministry’s 17 functional Skill Acquisition Centres spread across the 3 Senatorial Districts in Lagos State to train women and young people, in a bid to mitigate the effects of poverty, frustration and criminal tendencies emanating largely from unemployment and the prevalent poor economic situation.
The vocations being taught at the various SACs are:-. Adult Literacy ,Aluminum Fabrication, Fashion Design, Catering and Hotel Management, Hair Dressing, Barbing and Cosmetology, Photography ,Refrigeration and Air Conditioning , Textile Design, Hat Making, Macramé craft and Bead Making,Computer Studies ,Welding Fabrication ,Wood and Furniture Making ,Shoe and Leather Works, Screen/Transfer Printing Technology, Vulcanizing , Tile Laying among others. Domestic violence appears to be on the increase in the country, what role is your ministry playing to check the menace?
The Domestic Violence Unit of the Ministry deals with prevention and curbing of Social Problems that may escalate and hamper the peace, development and effective performance of women in the state. Services rendered by the Unit fall under the Social Services and Protection Pillar of Lagos State Development Plan. In a bid to provide succour for vulnerable women who are Survivors of Domestic Violence or those that have suffered some forms of abuse and trauma in one way or the other, the Unit provides the following: Psycho- Social Intervention i.e (enabling survivors to regain self esteem, self worth and actualization through counseling.
We also render rescue and rehabilitation services for the survivors and cognitive behavioural therapy for restoration of survivors changing their thinking pattern to move along with the situation in a positive way. Conducting Social Investigation .Visiting the victims and conducting follow-ups. In the past one year, a total number of 1,362 Domestic Violence matters were handled by the Unit.
One Thousand and Fifty-five cases were amicably resolved, 164 Follow Up reviews cases were conducted; One Hundred and Thirteen matters were counseled and referred to other Agencies because their requests did not fall within the purview of the Ministry; while a total number of Ninety–four (94) matters disengaged from the Ministry’s services due to family interventions.
On conferences to further educate our women, WAPA Connect Conference was organised for 2000 Women at Ten Degree Event Centre, Oregun, Ikeja on the 8th of June 2017 with a theme “focusing on Women’s Rights, fostering domestic harmony through Multi Perspective analysis, domestic violence issues, proffering succor for the Vulnerable and other burning Women issues”.
The Conference was aimed at Equipping Women for a Violence Free Society and Economic Productivity through Self Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century by bringing together leading women in private, public sectors and politics to share and exchange their experiences. How many have you graduated from your vocational training schools? During the year, the Ministry through the unit, in a Mega graduation ceremony of graduands of Year 2015/16 turned out 13,025 (thirteen thousand and Twenty- Five) trainees.
The highest number of trainees ever turned out in the history of the Ministry. The trainees had undergone trainings in different vocations offered by the various Skill Acquisition Centres under the unit. Also in same year a total number of 5,159 students were trained through the Skill Acquisition Centres of the Ministry.
The overall best students were given starter packs and stipends to kick start their businesses. I wish to state that all the activities and achievements were only possible with the active support of His Excellency Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who has expressed total Commitment to Alleviate Poverty in all its forms amongst the citizens of the State, especially women who have been identified as the chief burden bearers in the families.
To this end, the Government is investing in Women Empowerment, Skills Acquisition Programmes, access to loans and provision of working tools to enable them better their lives and become self-sufficient so as to contribute to the economic development of the State and the Nation as a whole.
On a final note, let me say that as we reflect on the efforts of this present Administration, in addressing the plights of women today, let us remember that the dream of reducing poverty in Lagos State cannot be realized without the support and co-operation of all of us together we will get there.