Gender mainstreaming is the integration of gender equality dimension at all levels and stages of policy, programmes and projects. It’s a governance approach to policy formulation that accounts for the interests and concerns of both women and men in the realisation that women and men have different needs and living conditions and circumstances, including unequal access to and control over power, resources, human rights and institutions, and justice system.
On the other hand, social inclusion is the process of improving the terms and conditions on which every individual and group take part in societal activity. Social inclusion involves accesss to improved ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity.
The Edo State government under the watch of Mr. Godwin Obaseki has prioritised the dignity of women, the girl child, people living with disability (PLWD), and other hitherto marginalised and subjugated groups in the state.
The government have enacted several laws to protect the lives of women and girls and put policies in place to give women and the vulnerable groups access to justice including the protection of their rights as citizens in accordance with the United Nations declaration of Human and Peoples’ Rights.
These laws include, “A Law to eliminate Violence In Private and Public life, Prohibiting all Forms of Violence and Provide Maximum Protection on Effective Remedies for Victims and Punishment for Offenders and Other Matters Connected thereto; A Law to Provide for the Establishment of the Edo State Skills Development Agency and to make Provisions for other matters connected therewith and A Law to Amend the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition 2018 and to establish committee against human trafficking and other purposes connected therewith.”
In line with the Obaseki led administration’s commitment to the “Open Governance Partnership” (OGP) in the thematic pillar of “citizens access to justice”; Magistrates have been assigned to all the Police Divisions in Edo State and charged them with the responsibility of supervising Police Divisions by paying routine visits to police stations under their supervisory jurisdiction to grant bail to suspects who are denied bail by the police.
Allowances have been approved and is being paid to these Police Divisional Supervisory Magistrates to encourage them to continually carry out this duty to ensure that Edo people don’t suffer unjustly as accused persons are presumed innocent until they’re found guilty by the courts.
Of the three arms of government in the state, men occupy two- the executive and legislature- while the third arm, the judiciary is occupied by a woman.
The Governor also appointed a Special Adviser on Gender Affairs to the Governor while there is a Special Assistant to the Governor on Gender Affairs in all the eighteen Local Government Areas of the state to ease access of women to the government. All the appointees are women.
The government also have women and girls in the Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV). These women enforce the prohibition of street trading among women thus making the process gender friendly.
Women have not had it this good in occupation of elective political office as there are three women who are presently elected Local Government Area Council chairmen. Women hold sway in Egor, Esan West and Etsska East Local Government Area Councils.
The interests of people living with disability (PLWD), are not left out of the governance of Edo State as they’re involved in all the policy formulating committees, including the drafting committee of the “Edo State Intergrity and Accountability Strategy” (EDSIAC); “the Edo State Programme Implementation” (SPIG), of the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC) programme and other state’s development committees.
Before the inception of the Governor Godwin Obaseki led administration in November 2016, the Edo Central Senatorial District of the state was virtually excised from the state as the district was marginalised in the distribution of amenities, sitting of projects, appointment into political positions, appointment and promotion of public service personnel from the district.
A highly homogeneous and republican people, the marginalisation of the Esan people of Edo Central Senatorial District was taken to an unprecedented hieght when in 2016, Governor Godwin Obaseki’s predecessor in office dethroned the Onojie of Uromi, His Royal Highness, Anselm Eidenojie 11, with further plans to banish him.
To add insult to injury and further anger and denigrate the people of the district, Governor Obaseki’s predecessor in office again appeared before an august gathering of traditional rulers in the area on Monday, 10 August where he told the Enijie that he had no regrets dethroning one of them, the Onojie of Uromi assuring them he would do it again if given the opportunity.
In the same vain, the third leg of the tripod which Edo State rests on in the equitable distribution of political offices of the Governor, Deputy Governor and Speaker of House of Assembly was disabled. While Edo North had the Governor between 2008 and 2016 when Comerade Adams Oshiomhole held sway as Governor, Edo South held the positions of Deputy Governor and Speaker of House of Assembly to make the marginalisation of Edo State run its full course. Infact the marginalisation of the district was elevated to a directive principle of state policy before the inception of the Governor Obaseki’s administration.
However, all these have changed since Governor Godwin Obaseki came into office. The cry of marginalisation of Edo Central has ceased as Infrastructural facilities are shared equitably to the three Sennetorial Districts while Edo Central is not short changed in appointments into political positions, recruitment and promotions in the State Civil Service.
Governor Godwin Obaseki also quashed the dethronment of the Onojie of Uromi, restore him to the throne of his forebears and reintegrated the entire Esan land and her people into the mainstream of governance activities thus increasing the frontiers of social inclusion in the governance of the state.
These groups of people who were before now marginalised, and their friends, family members and lovers of good governance, gender mainstreaming and and all inclusive government will surely show their appreciation to the man who made them relevant once again on 19 September when Edo people have the opportunity to renew the mandate of the incumbent Governor.