The fourth edition of the Southern Governors’ Wives Forum opened in Umuahia, the Abia capital on Thursday, with 11 members in attendance.
Those present were from Abia, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Cross River, Lagos, Ogun, Osun and Oyo states were present at the opening ceremony.
In her speech, the Chairperson of the forum, Mrs Nkechinyere Okorocha, said that the forum was established to address issues concerning the health and empowerment of women. According to her, it is the brain-child of the wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari.
Okorocha, while underscoring the role of the woman in nation building, said that the Nigerian woman was key to the realisation of the Nigeria of our dream.
She further said that it was in line with the tradition of the forum to give out mental, spiritual and economic empowerment to women of the host state during each forum.
In an address of welcome, the host and wife of Abia Governor, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, said that the purpose of the gathering was to empower women in the state.
“The women who are benefitting today were meticulously selected in such a way to ensure that they are capable of using the items to eke out a living for themselves. “It is my expectation that over time, this set of beneficiaries would become self-sustaining.”
She said that similar gestures in the past failed to achieve the intended purpose because some beneficiaries sold off their items or lacked the requisite skills to sustain their businesses.
She, therefore, pledged to support the beneficiaries to be able to access loans and to succeed in their businesses.
It was gathered that the governors’ wives present took turns to present speeches address different topics on health, girl-child education and business.
Topics discussed ranged from Cancer to negative widowhood practices, education, training and protection of the girl-child against abuse.
The role of women in the family, counselling the Nigerian child in the choice of careers, promoting healthy and positive relationship among the womenfolk, the role of women in nation building and tips on how to start small businesses were also discussed.
Prominent women politicians in the state, including Mrs Victoria Akanwa, as well as wives of two National Assembly members from Abia attended the ceremony.
No fewer than 300 women from the 17 local government areas of the state received empowerment materials such as hair-dressing kits, sewing and grinding machines, locally-made ovens and sets of cooking utensils.
Among the beneficiaries was a physically-challenged woman, Mrs Onyinyechi Ukaegbu, 51, who received hair-dressing kits and expressed joy and gratitude to the forum for its kind gesture.
Mrs Akudo Chukwuemeka, who received an oven, also thanked the forum and appealed for financial assistance to enable her to start her business.
The forum is expected to issue a communique at the end of the two-day meeting.