AWLC, Abuja 2010

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 “The 2nd edition of the African Women Leaders Conference held at the Hilton Luxury Hotels from the 17th -19th of June 2010. “ It was a gathering of women from different walks of life and chaired by the wife of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Her Excellency, Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan. She was represented by the the wife of the Vice-President Hajia Sambo.
The chief host of the occasion was the Hon. Minister for Women Affairs, Mrs Iyom Josephine Anenih. In attendance were First Ladies of Adamawa,Imo State, Bayelsa, Cross River, Benue States and the wife of the Deputy Governor Akwa Ibom.
At the close of the conference the following resolutions were reached:

• Leadership
1. Women in leadership positions should be encouraged to find their areas of strength and try to mentor other women to acquire leadership skills.
2. A conference on leadership skills should be organized by women in politics. This can help prepare women for the 35% affirmative action.
3. Women in leadership positions should be humble, embrace diversity, show integrity and try to serve the interest of the people.

• Politics
There are obstacles preventing women from attaining leadership positions. These include;
1. Finance
2. Cultural misunderstanding of the place of a woman
3. Short-changing of women in the apex leadership of the political parties
4. The lack of enforcement of the 35% affirmative action by all political parties.

Solutions
-Women should be encouraged to register as voters and women leaders should try to bring such women to the point where they realize that their votes really count.
-An identification of capable women who can stand for elective office should be made.
-There is need for the inclusion of women in the apex leadership of the political parties.
-A strong delegation/advocacy women group should be mandated to visit the national offices of the political parties. Women should use the national women rally coming up from 21-22 June to make this point.
-A call was made for the creation of a female financial fund. The money will be used to help women entrepreneurs along with women aspiring to leadership positions. This fund will receive contributions from;
– Women in business/petty trading
-Women in elective positions.
-There should be an attitudinal change for women aspiring to be in leadership
-There is need to show appreciation and recognition for women who have done well in their various fields of endeavour and leadership positions.
– There is a call for an all-women conference that will engineer collaboration among women from all works of life.

• Education
There has been outcry concerning school infrastructure.
Solution:
-Government must give a statutory definition of what amounts to school environment, devoid of compromised guidelines. There is need for Civil Societies to prevail on government to achieve these standards.
-Parents should be made to play a role in policing the activities of teachers to ensure they commit to their jobs; and report such activities to the Ministry of Education. This can be achieved through establishing Parent-Participation in School Administration (PPSA) in their communities.

• Health
Leadership must be compelled to put health on the political agenda by:
-Living up to the Abuja declaration which is committing 15% or more of GDP to health. Expenditure on health should be considered as an investment for life.
-Aspiring politicians must include their health agenda in their manifestoes.
-We must mobilize different sectors to get involved in health e.g. women groups, media, civil organizations, traditional/religious leaders.
-We should focus on the major causes of infant mortality such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria etc; and develop educational messages in the local languages to teach the public how to prevent these diseases.
-On maternal health, we call for programmes to equip the health centres with facilities, trained personnel and ambulance services for emergency and obstetric referrals.

• Business
– Women need money to succeed in business therefore avenues for accessing money from different institutions e.g. SMEs, should be made available by removing the barriers posed by huge collaterals.
– There is need for the training and retraining syndicate sessions for women in different geopolitical zones to help them grow, learn and to enhance the transfer of business skills to the upcoming generation.
– Successful business women should uplift the young ones by providing financial, moral and social mentoring.