Enhancing Gender Rights in Ondo State

taiye gabriel at her office
Taiye Gabriel attended a Democratic Governance for Development project workshop promoting gender rights in Ondo State. Photo: UNDP Nigeria

As a former secondary school teacher, and as the current Special Assistant on Appointment Management to the Governor of Ondo State in Nigeria, Taiye Gabriel knows the value of a clear plan in achieving one’s goals. So, when Taiye attended a workshop that laid out a twelve point plan for enacting gender responsive policies, she was suitably impressed.

The plan, which was signed by all candidates, was an initiative of the  Democratic Governance for Development (DGD II) project and its partner the Women Consortium Nigeria (WOCON).

Following the workshop, the contract is now being acted upon by the current Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, and Taiye is quick to point out that the workshop was a crucial element in moving these policies into the limelight.

‘It was a very good workshop and we made them sign a contract so that we could track progress and if they are falling short we can hold them to account,’ Taiye explains.

Highlights

  • Taiye participated in a workshop that resulted in the Governor signing a contract to deliver gender rights programs
  • Ondo state has enacted policies that support women to build their skills in economic empowerment and to improve maternal health
  • Taiye has taken the lessons from the workshop and applied to her own work
  • The Democratic Governance for Development program is supported by the EU, DFID, CIDA, KOICA and the UNDP

Rather than focusing on short term fixes to large problems, the contract addressed the broader issue of female empowerment. As a direct result, the Governor has enacted key policies that support women to build their skills and ensure long term health and prosperity. In particular, economic empowerment was identified as a major factor that needed to be addressed in a country that traditionally leaves economic decisions to men.

‘Women are dependent on their husbands, which can often lead to abuse. One of the key areas addressed by the workshop was the need for our women to have economic independence. As a result, Ondo State has instituted a micro credit agency, which has seen women traders move from the street and into viable stores to conduct their business,’ Taiye states.

Another important issue raised was maternal health, and as a response the Governor has instituted the Abiye Program, which provides free health care to expectant mothers, and for their children up to the age of five.

‘The Governor committed that pregnancy should be a death sentence no more. The contract clearly stated that these things should be addressed, and they have,’ she states.

Personally, Taiye greatly benefitted from the workshop and by seeing that women working together to create a clear plan has worked. As well as great satisfaction in being a working part of the implementation, she also saw how it could affect her life moving forward.

‘It encouraged me to realize that I can actualize my vision to work for a better society. You can’t change things by just sitting in the background and criticizing; you have to get involved. I used to fear standing up and demanding change, but with the kind of support we received from WOCON and UNPD, I saw that I can fulfil my dream of playing a major part in politics in my state,’ Taiye explains.

Perhaps it is because of her background in teaching that Taiye is so confident about the future and the role young girls will play in building their country. But what is sure is that the progress she has seen in her home state is giving her real belief.

‘Women are doing well and people are seeing that. They are seeing that they can deliver, so that will mean that they will get more opportunities. It’s not going to be easy, but we are finally seeing real progress,’ she states.

DGD is a joint funded project managed by UNDP in support of deepening democracy in Nigeria. The project is funded with contributions from the European Commission (EC), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

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