Dame Jonathan Commissions Gender Centre

As a way of fast-tracking the campaign for gender equity through the National Affirmative Action Initiative, the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dame Patience Jonathan, commissioned a Centre for Gender and Women Development Studies in the University, last Tuesday.  
Represented at the inauguration by the Special Assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Dr Precious Gbeneol, the First Lady expressed hope that the  Patience Jonathan Centre for Gender and Women Development Studies (PJC-GWDS) would empower women to develop potentials that would enable them contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the country.
The First Lady, who regretted that negligence, abandonment, violence and discrimination, characterized the daily life of a typical Nigerian woman, called for the abolition of harmful traditional beliefs  and value systems that impede women's right and development. In line with this year's theme of the International Women's Day, which advocated an end to violence against women, she called for concerted efforts to promote active participation of women in the society to guarantee accelerated national development.
Speaking on the topic: National Universities Commission: Strategies for Women Development in Nigeria, Executive Secretary of the Commission, Professor Julius Okojie, who spoke through a one-time Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Professor Akaueren Essien, observed that women development is critical to the development of the nation. Okojie, who presented a grim statistics of female student enrolment and staff appointment in Nigerian universities, called for appropriate policies that would favour women education and participation in the society as part of a deliberate affirmative action aimed at integrating them into the mainstream of development.

Chairman of the occasion and Amanyanabo of Nembe, Dr Edmund Daukoru, who was represented by Emeritus Professor Nimi Briggs, commended the University and the First Lady for the collaboration, stressing the need for exploiting ideas on women development to achieve the objectives of the Centre. 
Welcoming guests to the event, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joseph Ajienka, noted that the Centre was established to complement the efforts of women in national development in addition to “providing equal opportunities for male and female populations to develop their full potentials in the quest for excellence in all areas of human endeavour,”   adding that “the Centre would enhance our capacity to proffer indigenous solutions to societal problems.”
Director of the Centre, Professor Elizabeth Okeke, who called for collaboration with national and international organizations in the areas of teaching, research, training and projects, noted that Gender Studies is a multidisciplinary programme. She pointed out that the Centre would dwell on three key areas of development namely: health, human capital and material resources. “The activities of the Centre have been streamlined into four basic units of academics, planning and research, information/outreach and women's health and empowerment.”
The two-day event which drew participants from all walks of life, including government officials, captains of industry and academics, featured an Advocacy Workshop on Gender Mainstreaming: National Affirmative Action for Sustainable Development, with presentation of papers by seasoned Resource Persons. The event also provided an opportunity for the representative of the First Lady to inspect the temporary and permanent sites of the Centre.
It would be recalled that the First Lady announced establishment of the Centre at the 27th   Convocation Ceremony of the University in 2011.
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