By Kennedy Eberechi
Another August is here with us. The month of August every year is ideally, a period of rest when people are free from all kinds of labour. It witnesses a massive homecoming from different towns and cities across the world of “Igbo women” groups to their matrimonial rural hometowns, where they unite with their rural-based colleagues for what is now popularly known as the “August Meeting.”
August Meeting offers women opportunity to come together and ensure that peace and love reign supreme among people of diverse background. They use the period to commune with God in prayer and supplication so that peace and love reign supreme amongst them. More so, they use the period to prove their worth as good mothers and co-partners in the forward movement of the State and the Country at large.
These “mothers’ congresses,” as they truly are, were originally often geared towards self-help rural community development, but have in recent times delved into conflict management, peace-building and human development in rural societies.
One significant thing about this meeting is the fact that it brings all the Igbo women together, those at home and those abroad. Igbo women, no matter where they reside, usually find their way back home during the August meetings. Most women have used this medium to distinguish themselves as agents of socio-economic cum infrastructural development in their communities and states.
Given their enthusiasm, managerial abilities in building a formidable home and the society at large, women have the potential to contribute immensely to the socio-economic development of a nation. There is need therefore to create an enabling environment and opportunities for the socio-economic empowerment of women.
Notwithstanding, these inherent attributes, women empowerment is still a burning issue in the polity. This is in recognition of the vast number of women with little or no education and skills to enable them support their livelihoods or to become active in the mainstream economy of the country. The problem is further exacerbated by the alarming high number of our women who are either unemployed or under-employed.
Again, women face limited access to credit to capitalize their micro-informal businesses. Despite having brilliant business ideas, the women are sometimes regarded as high risk clientele group as they do not have the prerequisite collateral.
Therefore they often cannot access project funding from the formal financial institutions. This has left the women stuck in the vicious poverty cycle as their businesses remain merely aspirational and micro in nature, providing income for subsistence purposes only.
Undoubtedly, efforts to design and implement practical programmes to generate decent employment, reduce poverty among women and economically empower them to play a more meaningful role in the development and fulfillment of their communities and the nation at large is timely, as it is the catalyst for family and societal values recovery.
With cognizance to this and in an effort to integrate the Imo women into the Rebuild Imo Project of the present administration in Imo State, the wife of the Executive Governor of Imo State; Lady Ebere Ihedioha has put in place fastidious plans towards having a Capacity Development Tour to the 27 Local Government Areas of the State to interact, fashion out areas of empowerment and practically integrate the Imo women into the Rebuild Imo Project of the present administration.
It could be recalled that since assuming office, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha; the Executive Governor of Imo State has laid emphasis on various focal points, prioritising his mantra to rebuild Imo. One of his priority areas is to reclaim the dignity of the people of Imo such that the state shall no longer be the laughing stock of Nigeria.
Pragmatically, reclaiming the dignity of the people and the state must start by enhancing family and societal values, which according to several analysts emanates from empowering the women. Therefore the role of women in the Rebuild Imo Project cannot be gainsaid nor overemphasized.
This, Her Excellency intends to achieve as part of the 2019 August Meeting tagged ‘Imo Women August Meeting’ with thematic focus on Empowering Women in the Rebuild Project.
For most Gender Empowerment proponents, the planned Capacity Development Tour, which will begin from the 16th of August will be a veritable platform for Her Excellency to interact and galvanize the interest of the women and strategically re-channel them to effectively participate in the Rebuild Imo Project of the present administration in the State, which will culminate in development and recovery of family and societal values.
Also, the Government of Imo State’s determination to improve the lot of the people of Imo State, especially women and empower them through concerted developmental efforts stands in good stead to be effortlessly actualized when the citizenry is fully incorporated into the vision. Thus this year’s Women August Meeting is deemed another avenue to sensitize the women on the Rebuild Imo Project and seek participatory and complementary attitude from them in pursuit of this laudable and common vision.