The First Lady of Edo State, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, has challenged the continued marginalisation of women in politics, particularly at the local government level, with a promise to take the perpetrators to court for gender-based violence.

She said this on Wednesday at the Edo Women Conference which held at the Lawn Tennis Court of the Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City. The conference, part of the five-day activities lined up for the 2023 Alaghodaro Summit, witnessed a gathering of women from the 18 local government areas of Edo State.

Addressing a captivated audience, Mrs Obaseki expressed her gratitude for the support she and her husband have received and acknowledged the progress made in empowering women in various fields across the state. She made it clear that the fight for gender equality had only just begun and that it was essential to secure positions for women in the highest echelons of power.

The Edo State First Lady noted that women had faced significant obstacles in their quest for political representation with some men continuing to resist and hinder their progress. She drew attention to the treatment of female vice-chairpersons in the local governments, describing their exclusion from important meetings and decision-making processes as unacceptable.

Mrs. Obaseki warned that another battle for gender equality was on the horizon and pledged to hold accountable those responsible for marginalizing women.

She also vowed to use the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law to challenge gender-based discrimination within the political sphere, stressing that female officeholders deserve respect, equal opportunities to perform their duties, and fair compensation for their contributions to the state’s development as is being practised in the Governor Godwin Obaseki administration at the state level.

The event also featured commendations for Governor Obaseki’s efforts in empowering women.

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Edo State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Joan Oviawe, lauded the governor’s initiatives, highlighting the promotion of teachers, with many now serving as permanent secretaries, and improved conditions for primary school teachers.

Special Adviser on Strategy, Sara Esangbedo-Ajose, celebrated the increased representation of women in the state cabinet, noting the positive impact of Governor Obaseki’s governance.

Representatives from the three senatorial districts who also spoke earlier acknowledged the First Lady’s instrumental role in securing positions for women in the face of marginalization.

Lady Uwa Osunbor, speaking on behalf of Edo South Senatorial District, expressed gratitude to Mrs Obaseki for her advocacy, emphasizing the unity and support of Edo women.

Similarly, Chairperson of Etsako North East Local Government, Benedicta Attoh, highlighted Mrs Obaseki’s significant contributions to various sectors, crediting the First Lady for her (Attoh’s) emergence as LG Chairperson.

Women from Ikpoba Okha won this year’s march past competition while Oredo won the cultural display, followed by their counterparts from Esan Central.