Delta governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, on Monday, re-affirmed that his administration would sustain the empowerment of women and the girl-child to engender the uplifting of family economies and peace in the state.
The governor gave the assurance at the opening of a three-day Girls Entrepreneurship and Skills Training (GEST) programme for 450 girls at the Indoor Sports Hall of Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba. He explained that the girl-child empowerment was the process of uplifting the economic and social status of “traditionally underprivileged girls in a male dominated social construct,’’ and assured that if the 450 set was successful, his administration would scale up the number in 2021.
Okowa urged the beneficiaries to demonstrate willingness to learn and imbibe the virtues of diligence and honesty, saying that it would help them to realise their dreams. He explained: “From the onset of our S.M.A.R.T, now Stronger Delta Agenda, we set out to unlock and unleash youth entrepreneurship through skills acquisition programmes that will resource our youths with the vocational skills, attitudes and tools to become self-employed and employers of labour.
“The design and implementation of the job creation programme is trainee-centred, service-oriented and results-based, hence, the strategy is to turn unemployed youths into entrepreneurs, leaders and managers. The training and mentoring process aim beyond raising entrepreneurs, to producing leaders and managers that have high levels of personal responsibility and personal effectiveness.”
Okowa noted that 25 years after the Beijing Declaration, the girl-child was still grappling with issues of gender discrimination, crushing poverty, early/forced marriage, identity crisis, social and parental pressure, poor life skills (communication, decision making, goal setting) and low self-esteem.
“I expect you to take full advantage of it by diligently applying yourself to the training. You must demonstrate willingness to learn, capacity to grow and justify the trust and confidence of the government as it invests in your future”, he added.
In her remarks earlier, wife of the governor and founder of 05 Initiative, Dame Edith Okowa, had urged participants at the training to see their selection as rare privilege, and not a right; reminding them that thousands of persons also applied for the programme. She urged them to have passion for the training, and have integrity and commitment to ensure that they succeeded in their ventures.
In a goodwill message, speaker of Delta House of Assembly, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, congratulated the 450 girls for being selected and urged them to give the three days training the deserved seriousness. He commended Gov. Okowa for creating a Girl-Child Empowerment Office which, according to him, is geared towards providing skills and empowerment for young girls.
Earlier, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Girl-Child Empowerment, Mrs Marilyn Okowa-Daramola, while welcoming guests and participants to the event, said that project GEST was aimed at providing Delta girls, between the ages of 18 years and 30 years, with training on various skills, including fashion, hairdressing, make-up and ICT. According to Daramola, it took three months of rigorous interviews to arrive at the 450 pioneer beneficiaries.
“A total of 5,970 applications were received from both online and hard copy applications, comprising 4,474 from trainees and 1,496 from trainers,” she disclosed; adding that 873 persons were shortlisted and interviewed out of whom 450 successful ones were selected.
On her part, Executive Assistant to the Governor on Girl-Child Empowerment, Bridget Anyafulu, assured that she and her personnel would continue to create more opportunities for the girl-child in Delta.