Prevailing poor state of governance in the country has been linked to a disconnection between the people especially at the grassroots and policies which result in the non-implementation of policies and programmes.
Executive director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center based in Port Harcourt, Obomawang Emem Okon made the observation at a one-day capacity building workshop on Gender Equity and Social Inclusion organized November 20, 2021 for local government councilors, faith-based and community leaders from the Rivers East Senatorial District of Rivers State.
Emem Okon said government programmes and policies cannot impact community members until they become part of governance and challenged persons in decision making to operate in a manner that takes the needs and concerns of every segment of society into consideration.
“Policies and legislations need engagement to be implement. We hear government saying it has carried out programmes but the people the programmes are meant for often do not affirm such. This is because citizens are not being engaged and that accounts for bad governance.
“Social inclusion gives everyone a sense of belonging, shows acceptance, value of the roles each group plays, men and women actively participating, creating ownership,” she explained.
The Kebetkache ED advised that for better governance, projects should be prioritized through need assessments derived from engagement of relevant stakeholders to ensure that all relevant groups are taken care of.
She urged community leaders to give voice to issues about their communities, monitor how projects there are being executed; be informed on policies and how they affect the people in order to be able to avert negative consequences.
Calling for intentional inclusion of women to promote gender sensitivity she stressed that inclusion of women into decisions that affect their lives is important therefore, deliberate actions need to be taken by policy makers to bring into governance, issues of concern to women and girls into governance.
Emem called for the domestication of the national gender policy at local government areas to provide a working document to help with mainstreaming gender into governance.
“All campaigns in advocacy for women participation and inclusive governance will be difficult to implement if there is no document to back it up.
“This meeting is to enable you understand the need for inclusion. Speak up against the exclusion of women. Create a space for social inclusion in your communities.”
The gender equity advocate and Rotary of Port Harcourt Eco president in response to insinuations that the gender equity campaign was raising temperatures explained that the continued exclusion of women was causing problems and slowing down societal progress.
“People talk about gender because exclusion is causing problems”.
The capacity building programme was according to the organizers, aimed at improving the Nigerian electoral process through expanded participation and gender sensitivity. It was funded by Mac Arthur Foundation and jointly put together with WRAPA under its Gender Accountability Cohort: Improving Electoral Integrity and Accountability programme.
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