About 150 vulnerable women in Alimosho area of Lagos State have benefitted from a recent skills acquisition programme under the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, WAPA, in line with the all-inclusive policy of the present administration.
Dr. (Mrs.) Lola Akande, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, who disclosed this at the closing ceremony of the Short-Term Skills Acquisition Training For Women living with HIV/AIDS in Alimosho, stated that over 800 women spread across various groups such as widows, retirees and people with health challenges from different areas across the State have received start-up kits after completion of short-term training in diverse vocations.
Akande reiterated that the State Government is mindful of the fact that the prevailing economic circumstances pose serious challenges to women in particular and this informed the creation of 17 functional Skills Acquisition Centres across the five divisions of the State where indigents are trained on a tuition-free basis.
The Commissioner said that the beneficiaries have been trained in different vocations like Bead Making & Stringing, Events Decoration, Tie & Dye, Catering, Hat Making, Soap and Pomade/ Insecticide Production among others and have consequently been given certificates and start-up kits.
She averred that the objective of the initiative is to train women, girls and men alike in various skills and vocations for the purpose of economic empowerment and lifting their status from the state of dependency to self-reliance, saying that about 5,000 people have benefited from this since the inception of the present administration.
She expressed delight that the beneficiaries of the short-term vocational training who are majorly vulnerable women are now contributing to family and societal development.
Akande explained further that one of the reasons why the present administration is keen about women development and empowerment is to ensure financial independence for women which, according to the Commissioner, was a critical step for the women to take charge of their lives and for mainstreaming the gender into governance, especially in respect to politics and public life.
In her words, “It is noteworthy that empowerment has been a front-burner issue for both the past and present leadership in Lagos State. They had, therefore, identified that the challenges posed by poverty amongst women can only be surmounted through empowerment projects and programmes such as this”.
“The State Government also, through the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, set up the Employment Trust Fund in the State to promote entrepreneurial activities to assist women in their business. Loans ranging from 100,000 to 5,000,000 Naira are being given to qualified entrepreneurs under the scheme for which N6.25 billion yearly, totalling N25 billion in four years have been earmarked. Over 12,000 jobs have been created through this scheme in the past 3 years”, Akande restated.
The Commissioner, however, advised the beneficiaries to look beyond their HIV status, just as she called on members of the public to desist from stigmatising those living with the disease as this will go a long way to support and encourage the victims of HIV/AIDS.