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Gov’s wife, Abia women task lawmakers on laws to protect women, children

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Gov’s wife, Abia women task lawmakers on laws to protect women, children

UMUAHIA– IN an effort to ensure safety and healthy future for Abia women and children, wife of Abia State Governor, Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu, has led a coalition of women groups on advocacy visit to State House of Assembly to appeal to the members to pass some women and child welfare and protection bills pending before them.

•Wife of Abia State Governor, Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu addressing lawmakers.

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Delegates on the visit which was made under the umbrella of Vicar Hope Foundation, the pet project of Mrs. Ikpeazu, were drawn from the church, the academia, bureaucrats, politicians, business people, widows, advocates of women rights, professional groups, women labour groups, senior citizens, among others.

 

Specifically, the delegation expressed concern on the rampant cases of child trafficking in the state, and urged the House to enact a law to curb it.

 

She lamented that “a large percentage of women and children are experiencing physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse in their homes and families.”

 

Addressing the Speaker of the House, Mr. Chikwendu Kalu and some members of the House, Mrs. Ikpeazu lamented that “our key concerns include engaging the lawmakers in the expansive fight against teenage pregnancy, child trafficking, baby factories and rape.”

 

She listed some of the child protection and welfare bills to include, a Bill for a Law to prohibit all forms of violence against persons, Bill for a Law to Abolish harmful and Obnoxious Widowhood Practices in Abia and a Bill for a law for Equal Rights and Opportunities for Men, Women and Special Persons in Abia State.

 

The delegation also indicated interest in a bill to prevent discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS.

 

Mrs. Ikpeazu commended the House for the speedy passage of the Law for the Identification of Blood Group and Genotype, which she said would go a long way in ensuring a good future for Abia people.

 

“The prevention and management of Sickle cell disease is one of the major programmes run by Vicar Hope Foundation.

 

“We embark on intensive sensitisation of our populace with a view to reducing the prevalence of the disease. We also set up state-of-the-art sickle cell care centres to handle treatment and management. Our centres are located beside the Abia Investment House Umuahia and at the General Hospital Aba. I use this opportunity to invite all members to find time to visit the centres and see for themselves what we are doing.

 

“Our involvement in sickle cell disease revealed to us the pain and suffering that many families go through because of this disease. I am certain that this law will go a long way in increasing awareness for genotype matching thereby reducing the prevalence of the disease.

 

“Therefore, on behalf of the children of Abia State, both the living and those yet to be born, I thank Mr. Speaker and members of the House for heeding to my appeal of giving speedy passage to this bill.

 

“The second purpose of our visit is to appeal to our honourable members to hearken to the call to give greater impetus to gender issues as it concerns our women and children, especially the girl-child.

 

“A large percentage of women and children are experiencing physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse in their homes and families.

 

“There exists a deep cultural belief that the female gender in Nigeria is a second class being while children are just a means to an end. Thus, it is common to see incidences of violation of rights of a woman or a girl-child. In this regard, efforts to prevent and address abuses must be broad-based.

 

“We have endeavoured to empower our women economically to enable them pull out of the poverty level and become self-reliant enough to stand up against abuse. A few of the projects we have carried out include providing homes for indigent women through our Widows & Indigent Shelter Scheme.

 

“Another activity we have done is that we have organised women into clusters of traders set in rural areas. We built conducive market places for them and gave them funds to start business or expand the ones they are already doing. We have done this in Osisioma, Ikwuano, Abiriba, Isuikwuato, Obingwa, Isiala Ngwa North, and Isiala Ngwa South, while we have several more in the pipeline.

 

“We have also empowered our women with information and knowledge that will result in awareness of their rights, how to personally ask for it and to protect it.

 

“This we have done by collaborating with ministries, NGOs, the women groups and the individual women here present, to organize annual training sessions, seminars, and workshops on rights of women and the girl child where we get resource persons to speak to the women about their legal and socio economic rights”, Mrs. Ikpeazu said.

 

According to Mrs. Ikpeazu, her NGO the Vicar Hope Foundation, and other members of the coalition including the International Federation of Women Lawyers, church organizations, professional groups, women labour associations, widows association, and others have contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of women, children and other vulnerable persons.

 

She named some action taken by her NGO to include provisions of housing for indigent, abused widows; the creation of clusters of local women traders who work collectively to improve the economic status and income.

 

“We have also empowered our women with information and knowledge that will result in awareness of their rights, how to personally ask for it and to protect it.

 

“This we have done by collaborating with ministries, NGOs, the women groups and the individual women here present, to organize annual training sessions, seminars, and workshops on rights of women and the girl child where we get resource persons to speak to the women about their legal and socio economic rights”, she explained.

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