Cynosure of Feminism: Erelu Fayemi War On domestic violence in Ekiti ,Champions Women, Child Development. By Adewumi Ademiju
Her Pleasant disposition towards any one that comes in contact with her could be described as permanent With accessible and amiable nature.
But to perpetrators of domestic violence and child abuse the above description about her could be an irony.
Erelu Bisi Adeleye Fayemi is the wife of the Ekiti state governor, Dr John Kayode Fayemi .
Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a feminist activist, writer and thinker.
This is why you will easily incur her irateness as a violator of gender equality
In her advocacy, Bisi Fayemi has gathered many years of experience as a gender specialist, social entrepreneur, policy advocate, and social change philanthropy practitioner.
She has made a landmark in her positions in various international women organizations, developing women and children not only in Nigeria, but Africa as a whole.
As a gender activist, Bisi Fayemi in her constant efforts ,in form of various programmes and advocacies have been able to inculcate and develop the spirit of ‘I Can’ in the minds of every woman and girl child .
Erelu Fayemi has served as the first Executive Director of the African Women’s Development Fund, (AWDF) –from 2001-2010. A woman Organization with the first Africa-wide grant-making fund which she co-founded.
AWDF has played a key role in the promotion of feminist movement building in Africa.
When her husband Dr Kayode Fayemi took office as Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria, October 16th 2010-2014, Mrs Fayemi became actively involved in a range of policy advocacy, grassroots empowerment and social inclusion programs in Ekiti State. She led the campaign to enact a Gender Based Violence Prohibition Law (2011) an Equal Opportunities Bill (2013) and a HIV Anti-Stigma Bill (2014).
Constant media reports revealed that ncrease of domestic abuse,women/child right violation have been at an alarming rate in the country .
With the second coming of Dr John Kayode Fayemi, as the executive Governor Of Ekiti state on 16th October 2018,Erelu Bisi Fayemi Vowed not to relent on efforts in protecting and developing women and children.
Bisi Fayemi who is lucky to have a husband who believes in her advocacy ,swang into action and spread all tentacles for progressive achievement in gender activism.
In view of this Mrs Fayemi targeted all her missions combating various problems bedeviling women and preventing them from realising solid homes .
Knowing fully well that women experience domestic violence at far greater rates than men do, with negative outcome on children Erelu Bisi Fayemi in Ekiti state lamented that the increasing incidences of sexual and domestic violence against women are becoming worrisome , declared all hands must be on the deck to win the war.
Mrs Fayemi at a stakeholders’ meeting recently held in Ado Ekiti to combat violence against women in the state said that government was saddened that in spite of the existing laws prohibiting gender based violence , that Ekiti continues to witness issues of rape, defilement and human trafficking .
She disclosed that what accounted for the increase was the non- implementation of the gender based violence prohibition law , child right law, Equal opportunities law and other legislation put in place by his husband, Dr Kayode Fayemi by the immediate past government.
She said: “When Fayemi left, some of the laws put in place to safeguard the lives of women and girl child were not implemented”, saying this constituted a serious snag in the fight against the practice.
She added further: ‘we agreed that part of the policy thrust should be that steps must be taken on how to take care of the emotional needs of victims before seeking or get justice through the court of law.
” Most of the victims used to be emotionally down, because we have all failed them at one time or the other, that is why we must rise up to fight this scourge”,
Mrs Fayemi said the three key areas that needed to be examined by stakeholders include the causes of gender based violence , how to use legal framework to resolve some of the issues revolving around this scourge and how to break the culture of silence among victims.
“The third one is how to focus on inter agency collaboration, because this is not a problem that can be solved by a body .
An Appeal Court’s Judge, Justice Uzor Ndukwe- Anyanwu,at the meeting expressed worries over the rampancy of the violence against women in Ekiti.
She added that this issue has always been an issue of interest to Nigerian All Female Judges Association, particularly how to resolve the problem and make women safe wherever they go.
“Ekiti has this as a big problem. Am worried that we have it in this proportion. It is not something cultural as people want us to believe”.
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Wale Fapohunda,who was also present at the stakeholders deliberation said the government is ready to go all hogs to prevent the state from being tagged a thriving land for violence against women and girl child.
” Reported cases of sexual rape, violence rape, and child defilement have now reached a frequency that we firmly must believe there is an urgent need for joint action between government and other stakeholders to reverse the scourge.
“We are committed to zero tolerance for all forms of violence against women and children . Apart from legal interventions, we also take another step that photographs of convicted offenders should be placed on state’s website and announced on state broadcasting service.
” Also in cases of defilement , we insist on compulsory psychiatric tests for all persons designated as having cases to answer in form of violence against women”.
In his contribution, Police commissioner, Ekiti Command, Mr. Asuquo Amba, said any person defiled must pass through medical examination for the police to have proof to prefer charges against offenders.
Amba, represented by officer in charge of Legal Department , SP Femi Falade , advised that government should direct all public hospitals to offer free medical services to victims to prevent them from being made to pay for medical treatments , even while in emotional trouble.
Erelu Fayemi therefore promised that the administration of her husband would ensure the Implementation of Laws that Protect Women’s Right.
The governor’s wife on Monday 25th of March in Ado Ekiti at an event commemorating the 2019 International Women’s Day. declared that the era when women were being maltreated was over in the state, saying all the laws protecting their rights are now being implemented by his husband, Dr Kayode Fayemi.
She said Ekiti has been recognised as a state that has the political will to safeguard the rights of the women due to the laws enacted by government to give them a leverage in the society.
In the area of political appointments, Mrs Fayemi stated that governor Fayemi has been complying with the 1993 Beijing declaration to inject the culture of gender equality into the state’s body polity.
The 2019 International Women Day which ought to have been celebrated on March 8, was postponed for coinciding with the governorship and House of Assembly general elections.
Mrs Fayemi at the event said the government was more committed to the implementation of the gender based violence provision law, equal opportunities law, child right law and other safety policies that protect the rights of the women folk.
She advised women not to feel intimidated or shy to cry out while in distress , saying laws are there to fight form them when oppressed.
” You have a governor in Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is a feminist and who respects the rights of the women. He believed in you and he is ready to fight for you.
“How can a girl child be gang raped by a group of boys or a woman be beaten up or victimised by seizing her property after losing her husband? All these can’t be tolerated under this government.
” We also salute women for the role they played during the last election, this accounted for why the ruling party performed well in Ekiti.
Mrs Fayemi applauded the women politicians in the state who were elected as lawmakers at both state and National Assembly, she therefore encouraged more women in politics.
“If you look at the results of the last elections, four women were elected into the House of Assembly and one for the House of Representatives.
“Our government will continue to rally round you for Ekiti to be safe for our women and girls”, she said
The permanent Secretary ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs Foluke Adeyemo at the event said apart from empowerment , Fayemi’s government had also initiated policies and laws like multiple births trust fund, child rights act and gender based violence prohibition law to protect women and make them relevant in the state.
“This programme affords us the opportunity to reflect on the giant strides women have made and to reflect on their problems and how to address it. So. Women must be united for them to eran more respect and dignity in the society”, he said.
Erelu Bisi Fayemi in an effort to curb marital violence cautioned against the incessant cases of the menace among couples, she urged couples to communicate effectively in order to have a stress free marriage
The wife of the Governor, who was the guest speaker at a memorial lecture titled “Marital Violence:- Causes, Consequences and Remedies organised by the Ondo State College of Arts and Science, (OSCAS) Alumni Association , identified incompatibility as one of the major problems causing marital violence in the society. She advised singles to study themselves and know each other’s shortcomings before going ahead with marriage.
The lecture was organized on Wednesday 24th of April in memory of one of the active members of the alumni association, Late Mrs. Oluremi Oladunni Ojo, who died last year.
Erelu Fayemi at the occasion stressed the need for couples to communicate effectively in order to have a stress free marriage.
“If a wife is not communicating with her husband effectively or a husband is not communicating with his wife, things then gets to a point where they don’t trust each other anymore,” she explained.
Erelu Fayemi also advised women to be economically independent and self-reliant in order to boost their self-esteem.
According to her, total dependence on husbands by wives is one of the major causes of violence in most marriages because of the pressure it puts on husbands.
Erelu Fayemi also advised mothers to treat their children, boys and girls equally by not limiting the house chores to a particular sex. She emphasized that mothers should raise boys to respect women and raise girls who can aspire for greatness.
She warned parents not to mount pressure on their children to get married when they are not ripe for it as this usually leads to marital violence.
She also stressed the need for married couples to choose their friends well and not the ones who would lead them into trouble.
The acting Chairman, OSCAS alumni association, Mr Segun Dipe appreciated the wife of the governor for doing justice to the topic, saying he was sure that couples were more enlightened through the lecture
Erelu Fayemi at the reunion lecture was awarded ,the honorary Membership of OSCAS Alumni association for her roles in championing women and girls rights .
Child Care Development
Erelu Fayemi knowing fully welll that the joy of motherhood lies on the upliftment of the Child’s , has never relented in her commitment to Child Care development, Among numerous steps taken on Childcare development is the recent award of full scholarship to the daughter of the late Composer of Ekiti Anthem, Pa Ologunde who died about two years ago.
The scholarship was to enable the daughter of the composer,Miss Olaitan Ologunde, a 500 level medical student of the College of Medicine, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti complete her studies.
Miss Olaitan was at the verge of dropping out of the College, owing to her inability to pay her school fees, following the demise of her parents.
Erelu Fayemi received Olaitan with some management staff and students of College of Medicine.and presented the cheque for Olaitan’s full scholarship and another for her personal upkeep.
The wife of the Governor said she was moved by Olaitan’s ordeal after she came across her story on the social media. She said the government of Ekiti State, noted as the fountain of knowledge, will not close her eyes and watch a prospective brilliant doctor like Miss Ologunde drop out of school, owing to inability to pay school fees.
She described Pa Ologunde as one of the Heroes of Ekiti State who gave the state and its people a thoughtful State anthem, adding that “ it is important that the government responds when it learnt that a member of his family is in distress.”
“Pa Ologunde left us a great legacy and the least we can do is to take care of his own legacy as well,” she added.
She further stressed that Ekiti state Government under the leadership of Governor Fayemi will not relent at restoring the lost values in the education sector.
Erelu Fayemi presented Miss Ologunde with a cheque to cover her outstanding bills for her school fees and a scholarship to pay for all her school bills till the time she will graduate. The government will also be responsible for her upkeep as well.
Miss Ologunde who hails from Efon Alaaye described the move as unprecedented, while thanking the First Lady and the state government for the life-saving intervention. She promised to justify the kind gesture by working hard to come out with good grades and put her medical knowledge to good use.
Also as part of her contribution towards ensuring good standard of education for children/youth in the state, Mrs Fayemi facilitated donation of 110 laptops and bags through the National Communications Commission (NCC) to Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, as part of the Commission’s corporate social responsibility.
The representative of the Commission, Mr. Cyril Ndubuisi while delivering the equipment on behalf of the commission urged the University to fully install and make best use of the laptops for the educational development of both staff and students.
Receiving the laptops, the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Prof. (Mrs.) Olubunmi Ajayi, on behalf of the Governing Council, management and staff of the University thanked the commission for the gesture and promised that the University would make best use of the laptops.
She also expressed her appreciation to Her Excellency, Erelu Bisi Fayemi for facilitating the donation within a short period of time.
Present at the occasion were representatives of Principal Officers and the Director of the Institution’s Directorate of ICT, Prof. (Mrs.) Folakemi Mathew-Ojelabi.Olofinmuagun Bode
Head, Directorate of Information & Corporate Affairs.
Mrs Fayemi on 2019 edition of World Book Day,which came up on Tuesday 23rd April ,Mrs Fayemi Advocated Sex Education in School Curriculum ,while urging Youth On Reading Culture.
she said incorporating sex education into the school curriculum. would open up children’s knowledge on sex and prevent abuse.
She added that the major problem facing Nigeria parents and children was the shame and secrecy of discussing sex matters.
Mrs Fayemi said efforts should be geared towards sensitising the children on sex and what they should expect as it relates to puberty as they grow.
The Governor’s wife also urged Nigeria youth to develop good reading habit for intellectual benefits.
Erelu Fayemi said sustainable growth and development can only be achieved through adequate and continuous pursuit of knowledge.
She lamented the negligence of the youth towards reading, saying this has really affected Nigeria developmental process.
She enjoined them to engage in activities capable of Sharpening their intellects through reading and shun frivolous acts
Mrs Fayemi disclosed that the present administration would soon embark on building of public library for advancement of quality education in the State.
In recognition of her land mark achievement on gender based issues cum Child care development has won several awards both national and international to showcase the value of her contribution in the society
Most recent of her various awards is the 2018 Zik Leadership Prize for humanitarian Leadership.
Other winners of the 2018 Zik prize in leadership as announced by the organisers in Lagos include former Ghanaian President, John Mahama, immediate past national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, who won in the political leadership category.
Also the Governors of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel and his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Sanni- Bello, emerged winners in the good governance award category.
The Zik Prize in Leadership Awards was instituted 25 years ago in honour of the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria. It was set up, among other things, to encourage and nurture leadership on the African Continent and in the Diaspora.
Announcing the winners at a news conference in Lagos, executive Secretary of the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC), Prince Emeka Obasi and a member of the advisory board of the Centre, Prof Pat Utomi, disclosed that the winners were carefully selected after an exhaustive appraisal of nominees in the various award categories.
Prof Utomi described Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi as a reputable feminist activist, Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur, Policy Advocate and Writer, who has devoted her time, talent and resources to the promotion and defence of rights of women and the girl child.
“Erelu Fayemi co-founded the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) – the first Africa wide grant making foundation for women and chairs the program committee of the Global Fund for Women, USA, and has remained at the fore front of the economic empowerment of women as a platform for sustainable socio-economic development of the African continent.”
The event of the Zik leadership Award which took place at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, saw the Ekiti State First Lady won the Humanitarian Leadership category of the 2018 Zik Prize in Leadership awards, while, Billionaire Businessman, Femi Odetola, won the Business Leadership category and Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachukwu won the Public service category. Former APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun also won the prize for political leadership.
Other winners are Prof Oye Ibidapo-Obe; Barr Ikechukwu Onyema and Niger state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Bello and former UBA MD, Mr Philip Oduoza
Recalled that Governor Kayode Fayemi had earlier in 2013, won the Zik Prize in Leadership (Political Leadership category), making them the first couple that would receive the prize in its 25 years of existence
While presenting Erelu Fayemi the award, the organisers, described her works as co-founder of the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) and as first lady as quite impactful on women and the girl child.
“We are endeared by your genuine commitment to philanthropy and the societal vulnerable. Your various social cause initiatives has continued to mark you out as a global philanthropist of renown.” .
Speaking at the event, former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba hailed Erelu Fayemi as a dogged fighter for women and children’s rights, whose impact has remained indelible in the annals of the nation’s history.
Chief Osoba described Mrs Fayemi as an icon of women advocacy and a champion of positive change who deserved to be honoured with the prestigious Zik leadership award.
He said: “Mrs. Fayemi is a rare gift, not only for her darling husband, Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of Nigerian Governors” Forum, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, but to Ekiti, Nigeria and the world at large. This lady is a world renowned gender activist, feminist, successful social Entrepreneur, Policy Advocate and Writer, who has devoted her time, talent and resources to the promotion and defence of the rights of over six thousand women and the girl child.”
The former Ogun State Governor disclosed that Erelu Fayemi played some prominent roles during the pro democracy struggle led by NADECO alongside her husband, adding that he could testify to her pro democracy and humanitarian credentials..
Chief Osoba who said all those honoured by the Zik’s award have distinguished themselves in their various fields of human endeavours, saluted the award recipients and called on them to be more relentless and resourceful towards ensuring that the project called Nigeria does not fail.
According to him, the challenges of good governance in Nigeria must be addressed by all well meaning citizens. He also advised leaders in positions of authority to continue to provide good leadership for national development.
Earlier in a welcome address by the chairman of the Public Policy Research and Analysis Center (PPRAC), the organization in charge of the Zik Prize, Prof. Jubril Aminu represented by Sir Marc Nwabara, has set the mood of the event with an assurance that the awards were meant to deepened the recipients’ interest in further growth agenda and sound leadership for the nation.
The Zik Prize in Leadership Awards was instituted 25 years ago in honour of the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria. It was set up, among other things, to encourage and nurture leadership on the African Continent and in the Diaspora.
In her response, Erelu Fayemi thanked the organisers of the Zik Prize in Leadership and promised to always champion the cause of women and the girl child in the continent. She her husband’s massive support for all her activities has greatly helped her to forge ahead, even as she described Governor Fayemi as an epitome of humility..
The governor’s wife, who spoke on behalf of all the awardees, also charged other women on the need for them to showcase their God- giving talents and contribute to meaningfully national development.
Erelu Fayemi is until recently, a UN Women Nigeria Senior Advisor, and is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Africa Leadership Centre, King’s College, London.
She is Chair of the Advisory Council of the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund, a member of the Advisory Board of the State Partnership for Agriculture (SPA) of the Synergos Institute; member of the Advisory Board of the HID Awolowo Foundation and also serves on the Governing Council of Elizade University.
The Ekiti State First Lady is the author of ‘Speaking for Myself’: Perspectives on Social, Political and Feminist Activism in Africa (2013), ‘Speaking above a Whisper’, (2013) an autobiography and ‘Loud Whispers’ (2017). She also co-edited ‘Voice, Power and Soul’, with Jessica Horn (2008) a compilation of images and stories of African Feminists.