20th COWLSO’ NWC: Sanwo-Olu, Oyetola reckons with women’s role in building Post COVID-19 economy

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L-R: Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; representatives of Nigeria’s First Lady and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; his wife, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu and Osun State Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, during the opening ceremony of the virtual 2-day National Women Conference of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Wednesday, October 14, 2020.

…as Sanwo-Olu assures protection of women’s dignity

By Moses Adeniyi

Lagos State Governor, Mr.Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and his Osun State Counterpart, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, have reckoned with the critical role women have to play in the course of rebuilding Nigeria’s economy post COVID-19.

The duo respectively made their remarks at the event of the 20th edition of the National Women’s Conference (NWC) organised by the Committee Of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), which kicked off on Wednesday, and expected to last till today (Thursday).

In his remarks, Governor Sanwo-Olu who is the Chief Host of the annual conference said that the critical situation which the world is presently facing demands empowered women who are not afraid to pursue their passion, and fulfill their potential, for the benefit of the society.

The Governor who commended COWLSO for “their dedication, tenacity, love, resilience, and support in these challenging times” appreciated their commitment and “selfless contributions” to the improvement of the overall wellbeing of Lagosians.

“Thank you for playing your part as caring wives and mothers who only want the best for Lagos State and Nigeria. Thank you for collaborating with us to ensure that our women remain relevant in the scheme of things with the apposite knowledge and training that they need to function optimally,” he said.

Making reference to the famous feminist author, Diane Mariechild’s quote that “A woman is a full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform”, Sanwo-Olu averred that “these powerful words are no doubt a testament to the strength, zeal, and importance of women in our lives and society.”

The Governor mentioned that the annual women’s conference organised by COWLSO has had a positive impact on Nigerian women in building their confidence to become stronger in contributing to the political and socio-economic growth of Lagos State and the Country at large.

Lauding the theme of year’s conference tagged “Exploring the Possibilities in a New World,” Sanwo-Olu said the focus of the Conference is timely and responsive to the realities of the present societal conditions posed by  COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Sanwo-Olu who is COWSLO’s Patron further called on Nigerian Women to be inspired with the examples of leading Nigerian Women making strides in the world scene.

“As the world contends with a global health crisis, the time has come for us to critically look into ways in which our women can make more impactful contributions to global development. The world is in need of empowered women who are not afraid to pursue their passion, and fulfill their potential.

“I want you to be inspired by the life of another Nigerian, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is one of the last two contenders for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

“Her nomination and eventual advancement to the final round of the selection process should tell you that the global stage is ready for Nigerian women, the question is: are you ready to make history by exploring the possibilities in a New World?

“You have a stake in the prosperity of our society. I hope this conference galvanizes you to take action where necessary in order to fulfill your God-given potential.

“I am convinced that you will courageously continue to play your part in the development of our society while doing all you can to improve your lives and families.

“We all know that with the coronavirus pandemic, things will never be the same again — at least for a long time. We all have to come together to rebuild what we lost to the pandemic: we have an economy to rebuild, and the input of our women is required.

“We are aware of your innate ability to proactively respond to change. It has become pertinent for you to explore new possibilities, develop new ideas, and accrue skills needed to make meaningful contributions to your society.”

The Governor further appreciated COWLSO for being proactive, over the conference, stressing that the move reflects a readiness to think ahead towards a post-COVID-19 period where women can explore possibilities in a new world.

Assuring protection of women’s interest, he said: “Let me assure you, that we will not relent in respectfully protecting the dignity of our women. We know that our state and country flourish when our women and children flourish. You matter to our continued growth and progress. I encourage you to continue to work with us to build a more prosperous and stable society.”

Governo Sanwo-Olu who applauded the  Special Recognition Awards bestowed on Mrs. Yewande Bada and Mrs. Hilda Adefarasin, further commended the Chairman and members of COWLSO for deeming it fit to celebrate the Founder of COWLSO, Mrs. Obafunmilayo Johnson, of blessed memory with a posthumous award at the 20th annual conference.

Also honoured at the 20th Anniversary event with Outstanding Achievement Awards were the initiator of the annual conference, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (OON); Dame Emmanuella Fashola; and Mrs. Bolanle Ambode.

In her remarks, Chairman of COWLSO, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, mentioned that the theme of the 20th Conference, was carefully selected in line with the new realities necessitated by the COVID-19 global pandemic, stressing that the goal is to equip women with the skills and information needed “to stay above board in this very interesting times.”

She said that the unprecedented global  COVID-19 crisis has thrusted the society into a ‘New Normal,’ urging participants not to hesitate to avail themselves of all possible knowledge open for acquisition within the Virtual Conference to develop and improve themselves.

According to her subject matters to be dissected during the Conference, include “The Woman’s Physical And Mental Health;” “Legal Rights Of Women: Inheritance, Widows, Gender Quality In the Workplace and Divorce;” “Investment Opportunities And Wealth Building For Today’s Woman;” “Promoting Family Unit As The Bedrock Of The Society;” “Opportunities And Importance Of Agriculture;” “Digital Technology And Social Media;” “Environmental Sanitation & Personal Hygiene;” and “Domestic Violence & Rape,” among others.

“In line with the tradition of COWLSO that every National Conference will be an improvement on the previous edition, we have again carefully selected worthwhile topics and resource persons to dissect and discuss interesting and relevant topics to help us cope and keep up to speed with this season of ‘New Normal’” he said.

Governor of Osun State, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, the Special Guest of Honour, at the Conference applauded the thematic focus of the Conference, stressing that it is an apt strategy by women to live up to their expectations as the bearers and managers of lives to swiftly mobilise and prepare humanity in finding solutions to the challenges that COVID-19 has thrown at mankind “and explore opportunities inherent in the New Normal.”

Hailing the consistencies of the annual Conference for about two decades towards women and youth empowerment, he said: “It is heartening that the Wives of Lagos State Officials have been collaborating and strategising in the past 20 years to empower women and youths to contribute to the development of Lagos State, the nation and mankind.”

According to him, propagating the strategy and the content of the “New Normal” to the rest of the society is key, especially for youths who constitute about 60 percent of Nigeria’s population

“It is also heartwarming that they have demonstrated ingenuity and resilience by adapting to the realities of the moment through the hosting of a maiden virtual Conference to prepare and equip women and youths with the requisite skills and competencies for survival in this post COVID-19 era.

“This year’s maiden virtual edition of this Conference and its double population of participants over last year’s despite the Covid-19 challenges, speak to the ingenious and creative thinking of the leadership of COWLSO that Dr. (Mrs.) Sanwo-Olu sits atop.

“As mothers and society builders, women constitute the best vanguard for propagating the strategy and the content of the New Normal to the rest of the society, especially our youths who constitute about 60 percent of our population.

“The best way to help them to perform their roles properly is to equip them with the requisite skills and knowledge in conferences like this.”

Moreover, Oyetola encouraged women across Nigeria to follow the COWLSO’s example to abide by the New Normal, “turn the challenges posed by COVID-19 to opportunities and win the war against the global monster.”

“The COVID-19 realities have redefined and expanded the essence and importance of technology and knowledge in the New Millennium.  There is no doubt that knowledge and technology are the tools given by God to mankind in the 21st Century “to subdue the earth.”

“We all owe it a duty to convert the opportunities offered by these two magical tools to explore the possibilities in the new world,” he said.

COWLSO founded in 1974 is specifically a platform for wives of the officials of the State Government to promote child healthcare, empower women to discover their hidden treasures and protect the environment, among other things